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Onuorah: IPC condemns arrest of journalist in Abuja, seeks immediate release

Officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) have arrested the publisher and editor-in-chief of Globalupfront Newspaper, Madu Onuorah, at his residence in Abuja. Our correspondent…

Officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) have arrested the publisher and editor-in-chief of Globalupfront Newspaper, Madu Onuorah, at his residence in Abuja.

Our correspondent reports that the arrest came a few months after a former General Editor of First Mail, Segun Olatunji, was similarly arrested from his Lagos home by the military.

Olatunji was released after about three weeks.

In a statement on Thursday, the management of the online news platform said Onuorah was whisked away around 6pm on Wednesday in the presence of his wife and children.

According to the management of the news platform, he was taken away by “stern-looking operatives.”

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The management said the police seized the editor’s phones and denied him access to his lawyer and relatives after “dumping” him at the Lugbe police station.

The statement read in part: “The Management of Globalupfront Newspapers states as follows: That the Police should release Mr Madu Onuorah immediately and unconditionally.

“That Mr Onuorah is an experienced journalist, former Abuja Bureau Chief of The Guardian Newspaper, former Managing Director of The AUTHORITY Newspaper, who operates within the ambit of the law.

“That anybody who has any issue against Mr. Onuorah should approach the law court and not turn the Nigerian Police into a Gestapo outfit that bullies a man in the presence of his wife and children.

“That any second Mr Onuorah spends in police custody constitutes a serious infringement against his fundamental rights and a continuation of the assault on freedom of expression that has become a frequent occurrence in Nigeria recently.”

Explaining why its operatives arrested the journalist, the force said it was in possession of a written petition to the Enugu State Command against him over an alleged defamatory publication he made against a US-based Reverend Sister.

The police said Onuorah was arrested after several failed attempts to invite him, adding that he was not abducted contrary to reports flying around that the publisher was abducted.

The police’s explanation was contained in a statement signed by Daniel Ndukwe, the spokesman for the force in Enugu State and shared to journalists by the force headquarters.

Ndukwe said the Commissioner of Police in the state, Kanayo Uzuegbu, has ordered his office handling the case to professionally investigate and ensure that justice prevails.

He begged the leadership and members of the Federal Capital Territory Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and associates of the suspect, to exercise patience, saying the needful will be done in the case.

Meanwhile, the International Press Centre (IPC)’s Centre for the Safety and Protection of Journalists (I-CSPJ) has called for the immediate release of Onuorah.

According to IPC, information had it that, “About ten fully-armed policemen stormed his residence in Lugbe, Abuja, in two Sienna buses.” 

Press Freedom Officer in IPC, Melody Akinjiyan, in a statement on Thursday, quoted the IPC Executive Director, Mr Lanre Arogundade, as calling on the Inspector General of Police to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Madu Onuorah.

I-CSPJ also called on other national, regional and international media freedom groups, freedom of expression organisations and human rights bodies to join in the clamour for a free press in Nigeria.

He said: “The media once again is under attack. The rate at which journalists and media practitioners are being arrested is alarming and should be of serious concern to all.

“He was arrested in the presence of his wife and children who fruitlessly demanded from the police why they were arresting the head of the family. He was not even allowed to contact his lawyer or any of his relations before he was whisked away to the Lugbe police station.

“Anybody who has an issue against Madu Onuorah should approach the court of justice and not use the Police to unlawfully infringe his fundamental rights.” 


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