Few hours after a detained journalist, Nsibiet John, was released on bail by a magistrate court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, another journalist has been arrested by the security operatives in that state.
Mr. John, publisher of an Akwa Ibom-based newspaper, The Ink, was arraigned for reporting that the state deputy governor pockets N250 million monthly as security vote.
Shortly after his release, Jerry Edoho, the news editor of another local newspaper, Ibom Nation, was picked up in Uyo, Friday afternoon, by police personnel from the Force headquarters in Abuja, PREMIUM TIMES learned.
Mr. Edoho’s alleged offense is that on December 11 he published a post on Facebook about the rumoured crash of a Dana Air flight.
The management of Dana Air had quickly debunked the story as false and malicious.
In the Facebook post seen by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Edoho appeared to be referencing a rumoured air crash, while asking his readers to help verify the story.
“Rumor via social media (Facebook) has it that Dana Air en-route Abuja-Lag with 153 passengers crashed, killing all on board,” Mr. Edoho wrote on the Facebook post. “Pls could someone help verify the authenticity of this shocking report?”
He uploaded a photo of air crash scene, alongside the post.
Dana Air said the photo, including others circulated online with the false story, was that of a previous incident.
On Facebook, Mr. Edoho is also designated as the political news editor of another online publication, Ireportersng.com.
The website, which reported Mr. Edoho’s arrest Friday, said when the journalist realised that the air crash story was indeed false, he helped share the rebuttal by Dana Air on his Facebook page.
Inibehe Effiong, a Lagos-based lawyer, who was in Uyo to defend in court, the publisher of The Ink newspaper, Mr. John, said he was on his way back to Lagos when he stumbled on Mr. Edoho at the Akwa Ibom International Airport, being whisked away by three plain cloth security men.
“I spoke with him for a few minutes when he was being taken away. He told me that he was being taken to Abuja over the rumoured Dana crash,” Mr. Effiong said.
“I tried to also speak to the security men, but they were quite unruly.”
Mr. Effiong said the security men moved the journalist to a restricted room at the airport, and that they were apparently waiting for a 4p.m. flight to Abuja.
When contacted, the police spokesperson in Akwa Ibom State, Cordelia Nwawe, said she was not aware of the journalist’s arrest.
Inibehe Effiong Posted below on his Facebook page:
JOURNALIST ARRESTED IN UYO, FLOWN TO ABUJA OVER FACEBOOK POST
A young man by name Jerry Edoho, a Journalist and Deputy Editor of the Ibom Nation Newspaper, from Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State sighted me at the Ibom International Airport, Uyo some minutes ago and alerted me that he is being taken forcefully to Abuja by a team of plain cloth security men over a publication on Facebook.
He told me that he was tagged in a post about the recent rumoured crash of a Dana plane which was false. That upon being tagged, he made a post like several other Nigerians asking whether the crash report was true. The security men are conveying him to Abuja via a Dana flight that is scheduled to depart by 4 pm.
The security men confronted me for speaking with him “without their permission”. I retorted that Mr. Edoho is a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that his right to freedom of expression cannot be taken away. This resulted in an altercation between me and the security men whose identify I cannot immediately ascertain. I understand that his arrest followed a petition by Dana Air to the Nigeria Police Force.
I am using this platform to urge both the police and the management of Dana Air to respect the fundamental rights of Mr. Edoho. He should be released on bail pending the conclusion of investigation into whatever allegations that have been made against him.
This is a democracy, not a dictatorship.
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