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16 August 2018
The harassment, arrest and illegal detention of Premium Times journalists and editors by men of the Nigerian police over a report they did concerning the invasion of the National Assembly by the DSS constitutes an assault on free press and stands condemned in the eyes of all Nigerians who cherish the ideals of liberty.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) hereby joins Nigerians to condemn the assault and demand the immediate and unconditional release of Premium Times journalist, Samuel Ogundipe.
We insist that this repeated violation of personal liberty and thuggish behavior from the police, DSS and other security agencies which has become the hallmark of the Buhari/Osinbajo APC administration would be condoned no further.
Given the litany of human right abuses, illegal detentions and extra-judicial killings by the police especially SARS amidst several serial violations by other security agencies including the army, the SPN hereby call for a day of protest and demonstrations to be organized by the labour movement, NUJ, IPC, JAF and civil society organizations to send a note of warning to the Buhari/Osinbajo regime that Nigerians are fed up with the systematic violation of their democratic rights and the creeping dictatorship over the polity. Unless we begin to resist with mass actions, this government could take the country back to the dark days of military jackboot authoritarianism.
We understand that Samuel Ogundipe who was arrested through subterfuge, which included the initial arrest, intimidation, physical assault and illegal detention for hours of the Editor-In-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed and Education correspondent, Azeezat Adepegba in order to force Mr. Ogundipe to give himself up, is being held for refusing to divulge the source of the information he used for a report. This information, which was published by other media organizations, concerned the report of an investigation conducted by the Inspector general of police into last week invasion of the National Assembly by the Department of Secret Service which led to the sack of the director General, Lawal Daura.
As far as we are concerned as a political party, Mr. Samuel Ogundipe is covered by extant laws and as well as media code of ethics not to divulge his sources. Forcing him to do so constitutes an assault on his rights as a journalist and is clearly an attempt to gag the media and make it impossible for investigative journalists to unearth corrupt practices and serial violations going on in the government if their sources risk being exposed.
This conduct of the police on a day the Presidency reportedly ordered an overhaul of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) shows that this overhaul is simply a window-dressing by an administration which has largely ruled by propaganda and fake news over the past three and a half years. We hereby demand:
1. Immediate and unconditional release of Samuel Ogundipe.
2. Public apology to Premium Times and appropriate compensation to Samuel Ogundipe, Musikilu Mojeed and Azeezat Adepegba for their illegal arrest, harassment and detention.
3. Recognition of the right of the media and media practitioners to perform their duties without intimidation and harassment.
4. Disbandment of SARS and a reform of the police to efficiently fight crimes and prevent violations of democratic rights.
5. Improvement in the pay and working conditions of rank and file police men and women as well as recognition of their rights to join a union.
Acting National Chairperson