By Olubori Oduntan
Some journalists and bloggers under the aegis of Lagos Journalists League have called the Acting President, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, to order the release of a reporter with Premium Times, Mr Samuel Ogundipe, from the custody of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
Mr Ogundipe was detained by the police on Tuesday following a report he published concerning outcome of the brief investigation the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Ibrahim Idris, conducted on the invasion of the National Assembly by the Department of State Services (DSS) last Tuesday, which led to the sack of the former Director-General of the agency, Mr Lawal Daura.
A copy of the IGP’s report to the Acting President found its way to the reporter, which he based his reporting on.
But angered by this, the police chief allegedly ordered the arrest the journalist, charging him to court on Wednesday for theft of a document belonging to the police force. He was allegedly not allowed a legal representation at the court and then remanded in police custody till next week.
Also, the police was reported to have asked the detained newsman to reveal who gave him the document, which he has refused to do as required by ethics of journalism worldwide.
Worried by this trend, Lagos Journalists League addressed a letter to the Acting President, demanding the release of their colleague in police detention.
In the letter to the Acting President, the group said, “As you know Sir, confidentiality of sources is critical to the growth of quality journalism in every civilised society.”
In the letter signed by Mr Niyi Tabiti, Ms Moji Danisa-Dawodu, Mr Kanbi Owolabi, and Mrs Funke Osae-Brown, the group urged Mr Osinbajo to use his good office to order the release of Mr Ogundipe from police net.
Below is the content of the letter obtained by Business Post
August 16, 2018
The Acting President
Prof. Yemi Osibanjo (SAN)
Your Excellency Sir,
REQUEST FOR AN IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF MR. SAMUEL OGUNDIPE, A JOURNALIST WITH THE PREMIUM TIMES
Greetings to you Sir.
We appreciate all the good efforts of this administration in making Nigeria a safe place to live and work.
This letter is borne out of our concern for one of our colleagues, Mr. Samuel Ogundipe, a Security reporter with the Premium Times, an online newspaper.
Samuel was arrested by the police, alongside his Editor-In-Chief, Muskilu Mojeed and the Education reporter, Azeezat Adedigba on Tuesday the 14th of August 2018. The other two were later released.
Information obtained from the pair revealed that the police refused to release Samuel due to his refusal to disclose the source of a published story on a recent memo of the Inspector General of Police, IGP addressed to you last week.
As you know Sir, confidentiality of sources is critical to the growth of quality journalism in every civilised society.
Today, we received with sadness news that Samuel was arraigned before an Abuja magistrate court by the police in a bid to get an order to prolong his detention. It is also worrisome that the police curiously omitted the fact that Samuel is a Nigerian journalist in the charge sheet presented to the magistrate.
We therefore demand that you use your good office as a renowned advocate of law and social justice to intervene expediently for the release of Samuel Ogundipe.
Nevertheless, we believe that the rule of law should be followed to the letter in the event of any legal and fair prosecution. We also wish to remind the Nigerian Police that a federal law enacted in 2011 (Freedom of Information Act) reposes on the Nigerian media certain privileges of Confidentiality in section 16c, and the police shall therefore be held accountable for any unconstitutional act designed to oppress or traumatize Mr. Ogundipe, or any Nigerian journalist practising legitimately.
We thank Your Excellency in advance, as we look forward to your usually swift action on this matter.
For and on behalf of over 200 independent Nigerian journalists, bloggers and other media workers.
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