The police have arraigned the Premium Times journalist, Samuel Ogundipe, following his refusal to disclose the source of his report.
It was gathered on Wednesday that the police authorities secretly arraigned him at a Kubwa magistrate court, Abuja, in order to further keep him in custody.
Ogundipe, who was arrested on Tuesday by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad over the publication of the report of a police investigation into the invasion of the National Assembly by the Department of State Services, was ordered to remain in custody till August 20.
The police reportedly accused him of theft and criminal trespass and violating Sections 352, 288 and 319 of the Penal Code.
The Premium Times’ Editor-in-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed, stated that the force arraigned the journalist without legal representation.
Meanwhile, a civil coalition, #OurMumuDonDo Movement, has demanded the immediate release of Ogundipe by the police.
The group said its members would storm the police headquarters in Abuja on Thursday to demand the release of the reporter.
“We would like to state categorically that we will not hesitate to mobilise Nigerians of conscience to the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja, on August 16, 2018, if, by the end of today, August 15, 2018, Mr Samuel Ogundipe of Premium Times is not released unconditionally,” the coalition said.
The movement led by popular artiste, Charly Boy, knocked the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, for allegedly flouting the law of the land by illegally detaining the journalist.
“This arrest is an open affront on Chapter IV, S. 39 (1) of CFRN 1999 as amended, which guarantees the freedom of expression of Nigerian citizens and the freedom of the press in Nigeria,” the group said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Coalition of United Political Party also condemned the police action and demanded the immediate release of Ogundipe, noting that his detention was a smokescreen to douse the tension generated by what it called the mockery of democracy.
The CUPP spokesman, Ikenga Ugochinyere, said in a statement, “This arrest buttresses the allegations of the unsafe conditions journalists work in President Buhari’s APC-led government. Citizen Jones Abiri is still in captivity more than two years after.
It is on this premise that we call for the immediate release of Mr Samuel Ogundipe and the removal of the freeze order on his salary account. We call for disciplinary actions against all officers who participated in this arrest and torture of an innocent citizen.”
The International Press Centre also insisted on Ogundipe’s freedom, stating that the police had no legal right to freeze his bank account.
IPC Director, Mr Lanre Arogundade, said, “There is no precedent in the history of Nigeria where the police had frozen the personal account of a journalist. By so doing, the police are not only inflicting pain on Mr Ogundipe but his immediate family as well. It is unacceptable and totally condemnable.”
The Akin Fadeyi Foundation described the police action as “a clear demonstration of ignorance of every letter in the Nigerian Freedom of Information Act signed into Law on May 28, 2011.”
The director of the foundation, Akin Fadeyi, said it was laughable that the police could be pressurising a reporter to divulge the source of a story published by several newspapers.
“We expected the police to know better, pick learning from Samuel’s bold exposure and therefore, fine-tune its internal processes for better outputs in subsequent outings,” he said.