On the day the acting president Yemi Osinbajo directed that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force be overhauled, officers from the unit arrested and detained some journalists of Premium Times.
According to Premium Times, Samuel Ogundipe who covers the security sector for the paper, its editor-in-chief Musikilu Mojeed, and its education correspondent, Azeezat Adedigba were arrested and detained by the police at the SARS headquarters in Abuja.
While the police released Mojeed and Adedigba hours after their arrest, Ogundipe remains detained, with officers asking him to give up his source on a story he published on August 9th.
Mojeed and Ogundipe were earlier taken to the IGP Monitoring Unit at Force Headquarters from the SARS headquarters in Abuja.
The police later froze his salary account. Ogundipe has refused to name his source for the story.
Ogundipe had reported that the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris had sent a preliminary report on the Department of State Services (DSS) invasion of the national assembly last Tuesday.
Idris, in the report said that ex DSS boss Lawal Daura who was fired after the incident, was working for some politicians for selfish interest. Idris however, did not name the accomplices.
Daura was handed over to the police for interrogation following his sack. Premium Times reports that Daura “did not consult with other security agencies before ordering the siege, and questioned the validity of a security report that allegedly anticipated a violence at the parliament.”
Police spokesperson Jimoh Moshood while speaking on AIT’s Kakaaki programme Wednesday morning, said he’s not aware of the arrest.
“I am not aware of the details of the matter. But what I can say is that any Nigerian, whether a journalist or any member of the public can be invited by an investigating officer to come around so that he or she can clear themselves of any allegations against them. Since you are telling me now, I will find out exactly what is happening,” Moshood said.
On how Ogundipe was arrested, Premium Times said:
Moves to arrest Mr Ogundipe started on Saturday, August 11, when a Police Superintendent, Emmanuel Onyeneho, phoned a PREMIUM TIMES journalist, Azeezat Adedigba, requesting her to show up at their station.
PREMIUM TIMES management had then insisted that the request be formally sent to it so the reporter could honour it on Monday.
A formal of invitation letter from an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sanusi Muhammed, said the police was investigating a crime of which her name and number was involved.
“This office is investigating a case of criminal conspiracy, cybercrime, attempted kidnapping and fraudulent act that your name and phone number featured.
“You are kindly requested to interview the undersigned officer on 14th August 2018 by 1000hrs for fact findings,” the letter reads.
It turned out it was all a lie when the reporter arrived at the SARS office as directed.
As early as 10 a.m. Monday morning, the reporter, in the company of Mr Mojeed and another staffer was at the SARS headquarters, Guzape, but was told the investigating officer, Emmanuel Onyeneho, was not available.
An armed operative (ostensibly on directives), who attended to the trio subsequently confiscated Ms Adedigba’s phone and detained her, after physically manhandling PREMIUM TIMES editor-in-chief, who attempted to intervene.
After she was led in, the editor and the staffer had to wait for over four hours before Mr Onyeneho eventually sauntered in.
Subsequently, the official, who declined giving details on the reason for the invitation requested that Ms Adedigba dial a number, he provided, with her phone. The dialled number turned out to be that of Mr Ogundipe. The official requested that Mr Mojeed ask the reporter, to come down, a request he immediately obliged.
Immediately, Mr Ogundipe came in, Ms Adedigba was allowed to go while Messrs Mojeed and Ogundipe were detained.
It was at this point that the two were notified that the police were investigating the source of the interim report sent by the IGP on Mr Daura as published by PREMIUM TIMES.
They were subsequently driven to the IGP Monitoring Unit at Force Headquarters where Mr Ogundipe was made to write a statement.
Human rights organisations including Amnesty Nigeria and other individuals, including Senator Shehu Sani, Governor Hassan Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe, Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti, Atiku Abubakar, Chidi Odinkalu have called for Ogundipe’s release.
A hashtag #FreeSamuelOgundipe is trending on Twitter.
Nigeria: Police must immediately release journalist Samuel Ogundipe. #FreeSamuelOgundipe
— Amnesty Int. Nigeria (@AmnestyNigeria) August 15, 2018
Reports that police detained Samuel Ogundipe with the intention of forcing him to reveal his sources are extremely disturbing and illustrate the level of harassment and intimidation that Nigerian journalists face. #FreeSamuelOgundipe @PremiumTimesng @ProfOsinbajo @NGRPresident
— Amnesty Int. Nigeria (@AmnestyNigeria) August 15, 2018
I condemn the detention of Journalist, @SamuelOgundipe of Premium Times by the Nigerian Police. This arbitrary arrest of Journalists and clampdown on the fourth estate of the realm must stop. Press Freedom is very important to the development of our democracy. pic.twitter.com/GsZhgg0kFg
— Governor Dankwambo (@HEDankwambo) August 15, 2018
The arrest and detention of Samuel Ogundipe of @PremiumTimesng by the police must be condemned by all lovers of freedom of speech and of the press. I join other well meaning Nigerians to call for his immediate release.#FreeSamuelOgundipe
— Peter Ayodele Fayose (@GovAyoFayose) August 15, 2018
— Senator Shehu Sani (@ShehuSani) August 15, 2018
— Chidi Odinkalu (@ChidiOdinkalu) August 14, 2018
The morning after the night before, and @SamuelOgundipe is still in detention.
Should a journalist be held for doing his job?
Is this a democracy or an autocracy?#freeSamuelOgundipe
— Chxta (@Chxta) August 15, 2018
This level of collusion is incredible.
— dej (@ayodejirotinwa) August 15, 2018
— Christiana O. Agada (@ChrissyAgada) August 15, 2018
#FreeSamuelOgundipe and unlawful detained of @PremiumTimesng journalist remain condemn in a Democratic country not only being detain but also hv his bank act freeze by security personnel this is unconstitutional malicious #freeSamuelOgundipe .
— mc jasin (@mc_jasin) August 15, 2018
Press Freedom is not negotiable in a DEMOCRACY. Join us at Police Force Headquarters in Abuja by 9am as we demand the unconditional release of @PremiumTimesng journalist, @SamuelOgundipe. #FreeSamuelOgundipe
SPREAD THE WORD. pic.twitter.com/M065cbHHdf
— Comrade Deji Adeyanju?? (@adeyanjudeji) August 15, 2018