Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the Akwa Ibom State Government to immediately and unconditionally release of a newspaper publisher, Nsibiet John arrested on the orders of the Deputy Governor of the state, Moses Ekpo
SERAP made the call today in an online statement signed by its Senior Staff Attorney, Timothy Adewale.
SERAP said in the statement that “Nsibiet John, who publishes a local newspaper, “The Ink”, was ordered to be arrested for allegedly publishing defamatory materials against the Deputy Director.
According to the statement John was arrested on Thursday morning by police detectives from the State Police Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia.
“SERAP unequivocally condemns this abuse of power and harassment and intimidation of a journalist simply doing his job. Journalists, who allege officials’ abuse of power or report on things deemed unfavourable shouldn’t face unlawful arrest and retaliation. It’s unacceptable for the government of Akwa Ibom State to harass and intimidate the media, leaving journalists to live in fear. Media freedom shouldn’t be a fair game for the government of Akwa Ibom State or other states of the federation for that matter” the statement reads in part.
It continued, “SERAP believes that no one should be arrested simply for criticising public institution or public figures. This action by the Deputy Governor and the state police authorities is contrary to both section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”
It stated that if John was not released immediately and unconditionally, SERAP will pursue appropriate legal action against the government of Akwa Ibom State for violations of constitutionally and internationally recognized right to freedom of expression and media freedom.