One Week After, Detained Anambra Journalist Yet To Regain Freedom

Posted on July 13, 2022

IZUNNA OKAFOR

It is exactly one week and one day since the arrested Anambra-born Abuja-based journalist and media practitioner, Mr. Ikenna Ezenekwe, has been in Police detention without any known move or resolve by his arrestors to free him.
Mr. Ezenekwe, the editor of the online newspaper 247ureports (www.247ureports.com) was said to have been arrested last week Tuesday on the instruction of the former Chief of Staff to ex-governor Willie Obiano, Mr. Primus Odili, over a publication he said he (Mr. Ezenekwe) made against him sometime in May this year.
It was gathered that the Policemen in mufti stormed the site where Ezenekwe was inspecting work in Abuja at about 12:43pm on Tuesday, arrested and whisked him away immediately.
He, however, has remained in detention at a police station in Maitama, Abuja since then, simply because he refused to mention the person or persons (sources) who supplied him with the information he used to write the said report.
Mr. Ezenekwe’s wife had recently cried out that his husband is perishing in the police detention, without being granted bail or allowed access to his medications, as he was seriously sick and was on medication before his arrest.
This arrest and continued detention have also elicited and continued to elicit reactions of many other individuals and groups, including human rights groups, who condemned and described it as unconstitutional.
The Civil Liberty Organization (CLO) had also recently called for Ezenekwe’s immediate release from police detention.
The group in a statement signed by its South-east Chairman, Comrade Aloysius Attah, reminded Ezenekwe’s arrestors and detainers of certain relevant portions of the Constitution and international human rights laws that are opposing to their decision to arrest the journalist, deny him access to his medications, and continuously detain him because he refused to reveal his source to them.
Part of the press release reads: “The right of detainees while in custody must be maintained to the maximum by the police  and the police is mandated by law to not only give Ezenekwe unfettered access to his medication and his lawyers but also ensure that they release him on bail timeously and continue their investigation with a resort to the law courts for adjudication if need be.
“Apart from the specific provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, there are  the  Universal Instrumentsof the law as enshrined in  Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948,  the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, 1988 and  The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 1981 which Nigeria is a state party to, which all made provisions for the rights of anyone under the custody of the police or in detention.
“The United Nations (UN) Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment states it clearly in Principle 1 that “All persons under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be treated in a humane manner and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person”
“Principle 2 succinctly states that “Arrest, detention or imprisonment shall only be carried out strictly in accordance with the provisions of the law and by competent officials or persons authorized for that purpose.” while in Principle 6  “No person under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  No circumstance whatever may be invoked as a justification for torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”
“The police, while handling Ikenna Ezenekwe’s matter should bear in mind the expression of   his inalienable right to  freedom of expression as a journalist, contained in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) : “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the rights includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
“The right to freedom of expression is also contained in chapter IV section 39  of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and other International Human Rights Instruments which Nigeria is a party.
“Section 39 expressly provides for the protection of this right because of its importance and relevance to the enhancement of personal liberty and democracy.
“While the CLO is also aware that this right to freedom of expression is not absolute and also comes with consequences if abused, we still urge the police to refrain from any arbitrariness while handling this matter.
“Section 35 (4) (5) of the same chapter four of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended made provisions for the time frame for the release on bail for  a detainee or charging to court.
“Section 61 (1) of the Nigeria Police Act 2020 agrees with the provisions of this constitution while stating that a suspect arrested without a court warrant, other than a capital offence, should be granted bail, where it is impracticable to charge to court within 24 hours.
“We therefore call on the police to release Ikenna Ezenekwe on bail without further delay while the matter takes its normal route in law   and course of justice for all parties in the matter- Justice for the accused, justice for the accuser and justice for the society at large.”

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