The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)has condemned the unlawful arrest and detention of a journalist, Rotimi Jolayemi, also known as Oba Akewi on the orders of the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, over a poem read during a radio programme which the minister considers critical of him.
The civil rights group also condemned the police commissioner in Kwara state for being used to carry out the illegal arrest. stating that the unlawful detention of two brothers and the wife of the journalists in place of the journalist amounted to armed kidnapping which should be treated as such.
According to statement issued by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko said both the minister of Information and the police commissioner who authorised the abduction of the duo should be arrested and prosecuted for alleged armed kidnapping and punished by the competent Court of law.
HURIWA, therefore, calls on President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to take immediate action to stem the rising tide of horrendous violations of the freedom of expression and information and to stop the rapidly shrinking democratic spaces for the media to practise their profession.
The group held that media should be able to operate without interference or intimidation in line with Section 22 of the Nigerian constitution which mandates the media to monitor the operations of all governmental and non-governmental systems in the country.
HURIWA disclosed that it will also petition the governments of the United States of America; United Kingdom; Australia, Canada and Germany to pray for the travel ban to be imposed on Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Lai Mohammed should resign immediately or be blacklisted by Nigerian media.
The statement reads in part, “HURIWA hereby calls on President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to order the immediate arrest of Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Kwara State Commissioner of Police for reportedly whisking away innocent persons and detaining them only because their brother was alleged to have read a poem considered offensive by the Minister of Information and Culture.
“This is the elevation of the culture of impunity and criminality for officials of government to resort to self-help measures against a perceived opponent. This is a violation of Section 15(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 which obliges the Nigerian government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.
“We demand the immediate release of Journalist Jolayemi Rotimi and the payment of compensation for the arbitrary detention and illegal arrests of the journalist and his siblings and biological mother on the illegal order of Alhaji Lai Mohammed.”
HURIWA also condemned the continuous detention of Kufre Carter, Akwa Ibom-based journalist by the Department of States Services despite a court order granting bail as well as the continuous detention of the Abia State lawyer, Emperor Gabriel Ogbonna by the Police and DSS on the orders of Governor Of Abia State.