LEADERSHIP, the Nigerian newspaper four of whose journalists were detained this week on the orders of President Goodluck Jonathan, has indicated it will challenge the infraction on its rights.
“The police have no right to arrest and illegally detain our journalists – or any other journalist – as they have done; we shall not let this violation go unchallenged,” the management of the company said in a press statement in in which it announced that the journalists have been let go.
It said that two of the journalists, Tony Amokeodo and Chibuzo Ukaibe, were only released conditionally, to report at the police headquarters at 10am every day.
“We wish to restate that these conditions are obnoxious and unacceptable in any democratic society,” the statement stressed.
“Our journalists do not work for the police and have no business reporting to the police headquarters while earning their pay at LEADERSHIP.
“We have it on very good authority that President Jonathan will not be satisfied until the journalists have disclosed their sources and turned in the source document.
“It is ridiculous that Jonathan’s government should be obsessed with having a document, which its handlers said was fictitious in the first place.
“We have no intention of indulging their vexatious desires and insist on our constitutional responsibility to hold the government accountable to the people and the inviolacy of the freedom of information law.”
LEADERSHIP advised that if the police have no time to read the law, they should seek its interpretation elsewhere, pointing out that the two journalists have freedom of expression and freedom of movement, and they belong to the only profession assigned a role in the constitution to hold the three arms of the government accountable to the people.
LEADERSHIP said that because it does not intend to obstruct police investigations in any way, its advice to the presumed agents of the law is to take its staff members to court whenever they find anything incriminating against them.
“As journalists, they have done their job of reporting the news; they have not been paid to assist security agents in their own investigations,” the statement said.
It urged the Nigerian government to understand that the very crude tactic of arresting journalists and invading media houses has no place in the present.
“Even smaller African countries do not engage in those uncivilised acts anymore. And, certainly, no democracy in the world still does it. No doubt, those who arrested our editors are just giving the country a very bad name in the comity of nations.”
It expressed gratitude to the men and women of conscience from all over the world that have shown solidarity in their condemnation of the illegal arrest and detention of LEADERSHIP’s journalists by the Nigeria Police on the orders of President Jonathan.
“Without their intervention our journalists might still have been in Jonathan’s gulag, the statement said.