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Media Bodies Give FG 14-Day Ultimatum to Prosecute Perpetrators of FirstNews Editor’s Arrest

Media Bodies Give FG 14-Day Ultimatum to Prosecute Perpetrators of FirstNews Editor's Arrest
FirstNews Editor, Segun Olatunji

Media, Civil Society Organisations, and professional bodies have condemned the recent unlawful arrest, detention, and brutalisation of FirstNews Editor, Mr Segun Olatunji.

As earlier reported, Mr Olatunji was unlawfully arrested by military personnel in response to a story published in FirstNews Newspaper.

However, in a letter signed by the respective media bodies dated April 7, they requested a speedy, public, independent, transparent investigation into the gross disregard for Olatunji’s rights and press freedom as guaranteed in the Constitution.

Moreso, the letter promised to deploy all necessary national, regional, and international measures to ensure compliance with the demands made if the Federal Government fails to adhere.

They warned that “should the Federal Government fail to respond positively to all these demands within 14 days from today, the undersigned media associations and professional bodies, as well as civil society organisations, will pursue all available mechanisms at the national, regional and international levels to ensure compliance with our demands”.

Mr Olatunji’s residence was invaded on March 15 by men identified as military personnel, tortured and incarcerated and released 14 days later on March 29, 2024.

Given the above misconduct, the media bodies condemned the Gestapo-like treatment of a journalist under a constitutional democracy simply for doing his job. They, therefore, demanded the following as the letter reads:

Full Statement

  • The Federal Government conducts a speedy, public, transparent, and independent investigation into the incident in order to identify all persons within and outside the military who were connected with the violation of Mr. Olatunji’s rights;
  • All those responsible should be fully accountable. Therefore, all persons within and outside the military who are found to have been connected with the incident, including those who effected Mr Olatunji’s arrest, detention, and torture, those who directly commanded them, and those who ordered or instigated the action, should be prosecuted before the appropriate court;
  • section 35(6) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the Federal Government should pay Mr Olatunji substantial compensation and issue a public apology to him for the unlawful and unconstitutional violation of his rights as well as the inhuman and degrading treatment to which he was subjected; and
  • The Federal Government should make an unequivocal public commitment to respect and defend the rights and freedoms of journalists and other media practitioners to carry out their professional duties in a safe and conducive environment in accordance with Sections 22 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and advise all law enforcement, security, intelligence, military and other agencies accordingly.
  • Advised any member of the public who is dissatisfied with or feels the content in a news medium directly affects or involves him or her unfairly to approach the National Media Complaints Commission (NMCC) (The National Media Ombudsman) for redress rather than engage in self-help.

The letter was signed by Kabiru A. Yusuf, President, Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN)/President, Nigerian Press Organisations (NPO); Dr Yemisi Bamgbose, the Executive Secretary, Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON); Eze Anaba, the President, Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE); Comrade Chris Isiguzo, MFR, the National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ); Maureen Chigbo, the President, Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP); Musikilu Mojeed, the President, International Press Institute, Nigeria Chapter (IPI Nigeria); Edetaen Ojo, the Executive Director, Media Rights Agenda (MRA); Lanre Arogundade, the Executive Director, International Press Centre (IPC); and Adetokunbo Mumuni, the Director of the Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP).

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