Nigeria protesters, NGOs join call to free Premium Times reporter
Protesters in Nigeria have joined activists and journalism advocates in demanding the release of Samuel Ogundipe, who was arrested Tuesday after filing a report on last week’s statehouse standoff in Abuja.
The Premium Times reporter has been charged with criminal trespass, theft, and possession of an internal and classified inspector’s report. Ogundipe, who used the information to write an account of the incident and refused to reveal his source, said he has been denied access to a lawyer.
The report was sent by Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idristo to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is Nigeria’s acting leader while President Muhammadu Buhari is out of the country. Access to the report violates the Official Secret Act, Cyber Crime Act, and the Penal Code, police said, and it is not guaranteed under Nigeria’s Freedom of Information law.
Premium Times has demanded the release of its reporter, with the support of Nigerian and international rights groups including Amnesty International. The editor-in-chief of the newspaper and a second reporter also were briefly held by the police on Tuesday but later released.
The contents of the report implicated former security services head Lawal Daura in the National Assembly incident, which saw armed and masked forces surround and block the parliament building.
Osinbajo replaced the director general just hours after the incident, which he called an unauthorized takeover and a “gross violation of the rule of law and all acceptable notions of law and order.”
Image: Samuel Ogundipe