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Coalition for whistleblowers condemns unlawful arrest and detention of Daily Times correspondent

 

Elizabeth Vincent, Yenagoa
In recent times now journalist have been passing through a lot to access information.
 The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) condemns  the reported attack on the Kaduna state correspondent of the Daily times Newspaper Mr. Gabriel Idibia, by officers of the Kaduna state command of the Nigerian police force on  Tuesday the 11th of June, 2024.
Mr. Gabriel Idibia in a chat with the Centre for Journalism, Innovation and Development (CJID) confirmed that he was arrested and taken to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) police station, Gabasawa,  while taking pictures of a large herd of cattle being shepherded by the police on Kachia expressway, a usually busy road in the state.
 “According to him was thereafter taken into custody and brutally beaten up, Mr Idibia insists that the physical torture severely affected his eyes forcing him to access eye treatment. His allegations have been corroborated by media reports and an eye witness that was arrested along with him.
Before his arbitrary arrest, Mr Idibia had earlier presented his I.D card to the police officers to identify himself as a journalist trying to cover the blockage of the Kachia expressway by the herd of cattle led by the same policemen.
 However  was denied an audience by the  belligerent officers who asked him to leave the scene of the incident for no reason.
 The police officers thereafter seized his mobile phone and identity card when Mr. Idibia tried to take a picture of the road blockage and took him to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) police station, Gabasawa where he was detained from morning till late in the evening.
Mr Idibia further said that the policemen forced him to write a statement without access to his lawyers or colleagues.  “On getting to the police station, one of the officers who brought me to the station punched me in the face, and hit one of my eyes, leaving me almost blinded, ” he told the CJID.
In a phone conversation with the Centre for Journalism, Innovation and Development (CJID), Spokesperson of the Kaduna State Police Command, ASP Mansir Hassan said he saw no sign of assault on Mr Idibia when the journalist met him in his office after he was released. He however did not deny his unlawful arrest and detainment, “He was eventually granted bail on self recognition”, he told the CJID in a phone conversation.
We find it rather disturbing that men of the Nigeria Police Force not only arrested Mr. Idibia unlawfully but also resorted to assaulting him for simply performing his constitutionally guaranteed duties as a journalist. This is certainly not a practice welcomed in a democratic state like Nigeria and it stands condemned in strong terms.
The attack on Mr. Idibia is a violation of his fundamental human rights. It also constitutes an outright infringement on press freedom and the public’s rights to information and expression.
Mr Idibia has further alleged that the Police has threatened to indict and label him a bandit.
We urge the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kayode Egbetokun, to ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted into the matter and  that all officers involved in the unlawful arrest and assault of Mr Gabriel Idibia be made to face the appropriate legal sanctions.
Journalists play an essential role without which democracy cannot function; therefore, they must be protected and not attacked by the police and all other security agencies.
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