The Abuja Bureau Chief of the Independent Newspaper was arrested last week by the State Security Service for publishing a story on the alleged payment of $2 million to the Boko Haram terrorists for the release of some of the abducted Chibok girls. Apparently embarrassed by the publication Mr. Ezimakor has been held incommunicado by the State Security Service. As a condition for his release from the illegal custody of the State Security Service, Mr. Ezimakor has been asked to disclose his source of information.
The harassment of Mr Ezimakor is a sad reminder of the case of Messrs Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor who tried, convicted and were jailed by the Buhari/Idiagbon junta in 1984 over their refusal to disclose their source of information pertaining to a story published in The Guardian newspaper. Regrettably, the State Security Service is yet to appreciate that a journalist cannot be forced to disclose his source of information under the current democratic dispensation.
It is high time the attention of the State Security Service was drawn to Section 35(2) of the Constitution which provides that “any person who is arrested or detained shall have the right to remain silent or avoid answering any question until after consultation with a legal practitioner or any other person of his own choice”. Since Mr. Ezimakor is constitutionally entitled to “remain silent” the State Security Services lacks the power to subject him to disclose the source of his information.
Therefore, by arresting and detaining Mr. Ezimakor for the purpose of compelling him to disclose the source of a story written by him and published by the Independent newspaper the State Security Services has acted malafide, illegally and unconstitutionally. As Mr. Ezimakor has not committed any offense known to law the State Security Services should release him unconditionally and publicly apologize to him in line with the requirement of section 35(6) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigerian as amended.