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JOURNALISTS, CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS CALL FOR RELEASE OF ABIA FACTS EDITOR

EMENIKE
Coalition of media practitioners and civil society groups has condemned the illegal arrest and detention of the blogger, publisher and Editor-in-Chief of an online medium, Abia Facts, Mr. Emenike Iroegbu, by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) in Uyo.
The Coalition learnt that Mr. Iroegbu, whose Uyo residence was invaded in a Gestapo style by men of the DSS at the noon of Tuesday, September 6, 2016, was whisked to the Akwa State Command and subsequently transferred to Umuahia, the Abia State Command of the agency, the following day.
It condemned the alarming and unprecedented spate at which security operatives breach the citizens entitled fundamental right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
According to a legal practitioner and Convener of Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COHRD), Barrister Inibehe Effiong, operatives of “DSS and other security agencies should resist the emerging capricious proclivities of political office holders to use security agencies to clampdown on Nigerians for exercising their constitutional liberties. Democracy is being threatened in Nigeria by the rising display of intolerance to free speech.”
“Will the DSS and other security agencies be willing to arrest, detain and prosecute every Nigerian that is accused of making offensive or derogatory publication and statement? The security agencies should not be seen to be massaging the egos of the influential members of the society. Those who believe that their reputation have been lowered in the eyes of right thinking members of the society should explore the legal option by seeking redress in a court of law. Blogging is not a crime in Nigeria. Our security agencies should not be used by politicians against bloggers,” he stressed.
The Coalition cautioned the Abia State Government and its cohorts to refrain from using security operatives in a democratic dispensation as whips for citizens it assumed to be opposing to their ideals and programmes.
Addressing newsmen shortly after a visit to the Akwa Ibom State Command, Iroegbu’s counsel, Victor Asuquo Esq, who went with his client’s wife, Ekaette, to seek his release, said “the rule of law must reign supreme; freedom of speech must be respected. DSS is not an instrument of government to intimidate, suppress and oppress the citizens of Nigeria, rather it’s an institution of state that ought to add colour to the rights of her citizens by protecting them. It is therefore unconstitutional for them to have arrested Emenike Iroegbu. He is not link to terrorism or militancy.”
He further said “I was informed that my client has been transferred to Abia State. The fact that Emenike Iroegbu had joined hands with the likes of Alex Otti and recently, with Uche Ogah, to bring positive change and good governance is not a ground to portray him as an enemy of state by the Okezie Ikeazu-led government of Abia State. I have called for his immediate release.”
A media practitioner, Ibrahim Abdul, who followed the trend during the 2015 electioneering campaign, said “I know Emenike Iroegbu. He stands for the truth as a media practitioner. His ordeal today is because he reported verbatim what happened and what was going on in the street. The Okezie Ikpeazu Government became uncomfortable with what he was doing and tried severally to cow him to support them. He was given N2million in the one the meetings by the Chief Press Secretary to the Abia State Governor, Mr. Enyinnaya Appolos.”
The Coalition further appealed to security agencies to live above board and not allowed self-centered politicians use to use them for their political interests.
They said “we will stop at nothing in ensuring that Iroegbu’s case serves as a deterrent to self-seeking politicians who use security operatives to orchestrate their inhuman acts.”

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