A group of concerned Nigerian online and print journalists today, Thursday, August 16, demanded the immediate release of Samuel Ogundipe, a reporter with top online newspaper, Premium Times, who was arrested for alleged writing a story the police considered ‘offensive and inciting’.
The statement which was signed by Niyi Tabiti, Moji Danisa-Dawodu, Kanbi Owolabi and Funke Osae-Brown on behalf of the group, called on the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to wade into the matter in view of the police’s recalcitrance to let Ogundipe off the hook, despite that the offence for which he was alleged is not criminal in nature.
Below is the letter:
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.