NUJ Demands Release of Publisher from Police Detention, Rejects ‘Attempt To Stifle Press Freedom’
NEWSMAN, Abuja – Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) FCT Council, has called for the release of publisher of Power Steering magazine Tom Oga Uhia, describing his arrest and detention by the police as unfortunate and an abuse of power.
Uhia was arrested for alleged defamation on Wednesday night in a ‘Gestapo manner’ by the men of the Force Criminal Investigation Department, FCID, Abuja on the instructions of the Minister of State, Power, Mr. Godwin Jeddy Agba.
The union in a statement on Friday by its Chairman and Secretary, Emmanuel Ogbeche and Ochiaka Ugwu, respectively, noted that “if the minister believes he has been either defamed or suffered libel, he should seek judicial remedy through the courts rather than resorting to abuse of power and privilege using the police.”
“It is obvious that recent events are not enough lessons to officials in power that there is always a day of reckoning. If the Minister of State, Power, Mr. Godwin Jeddy Agba feels strongly that he has suffered libel or defamation, what he ought to do is to seek legal remedy through the courts rather than using the police to arrest and detain Mr. Tom Oga Uhia, publisher of Power Steering Magazine for over 72 hours now without being charged to court,” the statement read.
“The NUJ FCT is not unaware of serious security challenges facing the country and urges the Inspector General of Police to channel valuable time and energy in confronting these issues including the growing nationwide protests against police harassment, brutality and impunity rather than arresting and detaining a journalist without being charged to court after 72 hours,” it added.
The union further called on the IGP to unconditionally release Uhia and to also advice Jeddy Agba to follow the due process of the law if he is persuaded he has any case.
“The NUJ will resist any and all attempts to stifle press freedom and gag journalists in the performance of their constitutional guaranteed role of holding government and its officials accountable to the people,” the statement added.
However, NUJ said it will continue to hold government officials accountable, in particular those who believe they can use their positions to intimidate, harass, arrest and detain journalists for reporting on them.