The Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN) has rejected claims by the Nigeria police that two of its members, Messrs. Timothy and Daniel Elombah, are terrorists and that they breached the country’s cybercrime rules because they approved the publication of an opinion article, deemed offensive by the police, on their website.
OPAN stated its position in a statement issued on Wednesday ahead of the arraignment for alleged terrorism and cybercrime of the journalists on Thursday.
The police, in a four-count charge, filed at the Federal High Court 5 in Abuja are accusing the two journalists (publisher and editor of elombah.com respectively) of cyber bullying and cyber stalking the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Kpotum Idris. They are also accused of cybercrime and “championing Biafra terrorism”.
According to OPAN, the Police should immediately withdraw the allegations, which it branded as spurious, and stop harassing journalists carrying out their lawful duty. The association said it is worried by the claim of the police that journalists carrying out their lawful duty intend to "create native war” in the country.
“This claim is not only ridiculous but also disgraceful of the police force under the care of Mr. Idris. It is laughable that the police force, under whose watch 110 female teenage students were kidnapped from their dormitory at the Government Girls’ Technical Science College, Dapchi, Yobe State, can descend so low to the extent of filing fabricated charges against the two journalists who are contributing their own quota to national development,” said OPAN.
The association said the two journalists have repeatedly stated that they have nothing to do with the article, as it was not written by the editor, publisher, or staff of the website. They also stated that there is no shred of evidence that elombah.com promotes terrorism in Nigeria.
"It is to be noted that the online medium has published series of articles against the activities of Boko Haram in the country and other acts of terrorism, so linking it with the activities of IPOB is a joke taken too far. For clarity, OPAN restates that elombah.com is a responsible media organization. It is not a terrorist organization and neither is it championing Biafra,” maintained the association.