Authorities of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) have on Sunday demanded the immediate and unconditional release of a journalist, Nelson Omonu, working with Summit Post Newspaper. He was whisked away by security operatives believed to be working on the orders of Katsina State governor, Aminu Bello Masari.
According to the NUJ, Omonu was picked up in a commando-style in Abuja, in the early hours of Saturday, January 1, 2022, and taken to Katsina “in the most inhuman manner without prior invitation.”
The arrest had since thrown NUJ and Abuja journalists into a panic.
The chairman of NUJ (FCT Council), Emmanuel Ogbeche and Secretary, Ochiaka Ugwu, in a statement said that if the governor holds it strongly that he had been maligned or defamed, he should approach a Court of competent jurisdiction to seek redress rather than resorting to abuse of power and brute force using the police.
The statement read, “It is obvious that a lot of issues are seeking attention in Katsina State; first among them is the high insecurity. We think the governor will do well by directing the instrument of the state towards arresting the ugly menace which continues to threaten the peace of the state than intimidating a journalist who is duty-bound to hold the government accountable to the people.
“Moreover, the council is not unaware of serious security challenges facing the North-West states as a whole which Katsina is part of and urges the governor to direct his energy and channel valuable time in confronting these issues including the growing protests against insecurity, brutality and impunity in the North rather than arresting and detaining a journalist unjustly.
“We call on the governor to immediately and unconditionally release Omonu and as a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Governor Masari should run a law-based government rather than resort to harassment and intimidation of a journalist.
“Make no mistake about it, the NUJ will resist any and all attempts to stifle press freedom and gag journalists in the performance of their constitutional guaranteed role of holding government and its officials accountable to the people.
“The union will continue to forensically x-ray the activities of government officials and in particular those who believe they can use their positions to intimidate, harass, arrest and detain journalists for reporting on them.”