The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has condemned the reckless and provocative intimidation, harassment and threat of arrest of an Online Journalist, Adumonza Isiahomhen, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of OpenLife, by Police Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department of Ekiti State Police Command.
The attempt of forceful invasion of Idumonza’s Office at Plot 7, Ilapo Estate, opposite AIT Alagbado, Lagos, on Friday September, 3rd, 2021 by the Police Officers from the Ekiti State Command, follows a story originated from an anonymous parent of a student of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, titled “Afe Babalola University in Rumbles as Parents Complain of Fraud, published on Thursday, August 19, 2021”
A statement by the National Association of Online Security Reporters (NAOSRE) said the action of the Police Officers was a clear manifestation of the violation of the Journalist’s constitutionally guaranteed rights to privacy and freedom of expression and the Press.
The statement read in part: “It was gathered on Friday, 3rd September, 2021 that errant Police Officers, claim to be in possession of a purported petition but refused to inform the Journalist who the Petitioner is and they refused to avail the Journalist with a copy of the petition despite the request by the Journalist.
“Apparently, the Officers are determined to get the Journalist arrested this weekend. Thus, without provocation and without justification, they had apparently attempted to invade the Lagos Office of the Online Journalist in search of him for his arrest.”q
In a similar statement by the National Publicity Secretary, of CDHR, Henry Ekine, made available to the Press, the Human Rights Group described the attempted invasion and unjustified threat of arrest of Idumonza as not only reckless but insensitive and callous.
Ekine, on behalf of the President of CDHR, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, the National Executive Committee and members of CDHR, expressed the commitment of the Organization to the protection and defense of Human Rights of all persons noting that Injury to one is injury to all!
“CDHR therefore called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Usman Baba Alkali, the Commissioner of Police, Ekiti State Command and the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, to swiftly intervene in this matter and ensure that the Journalist is not unjustly intimidated, harassed or arrested” the statement read.
The Human Rights Group demanded that the Inspector General of Police must caution Police Officers and Personnel to uphold Citizens’ Rights. “This case, just clearly reveals the disturbing level of insensitivity to the rights of citizens; it shows gross intolerance against matters of Human Rights and Civil Rights Activists by some Policemen and other security agents.“
CDHR expressed worry over the level to which the respect for Human Rights in the country has degenerated and how some Policemen have become the enemies of the citizens.
“They have become the perpetrators of the violation of the Rights of innocent citizens. The Police need to be more professional with the objective to promote and protect the rights of all citizens at all times; the right to freedom of expression and the Press remains a fundamental right and must be protected, especially by state agents in all circumstances. The Police must not be willing tools in the hands of people.”
The foremost human rights group emphasised that the right to freedom of expression is guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amendment, as well as under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“If any individual or institution feels offended by a privileged or fair publication such individual is advised to approach the Court in a civil defamation action not to employ state actors to harass and intimidate citizens with threat of arrest. The state has the positive responsibility to ensure the protection of Citizens’ Rights.” The statement read.