The Coalition for Press Freedom and Whistleblower Protection (CPFWP), a coalition of media and civil society organizations, views with great concern, the arrest, detention and unwarranted trauma meted out to the Elombah brothers by officers of the Nigeria Police Force at the behest of the Inspector General, Mr. Ibrahim Idris.
Daniel Elombah, publisher of online medium, elombah.com, was arrested alongside his brother, Tim by operatives of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police during a combative invasion of their country home in the wee hours of new year’s day at Anambra State. The Elombah family including children was subjected to a traumatic experience of fence-scaling and sporadic gun-shots by the operatives who were initially thought to be kidnappers or men of the underworld.
Daniel and Tim were driven to Abuja and subsequently detained in dehumanizing conditions at the notorious ‘Abattoir’ facility of SARS. Contrary to the provisions of the law, the men were never told the offences for which they were held and treated to such criminalizing conditions. Even though Daniel was later released later that night and made to submit to further investigations, his brother continues to be held by the police in connection with an opinion article alleged to be offensive to the IG of Police. Curiously, neither Daniel nor Tim authored the said article which by the way was not published on elombah.com but on another online platform.
The Coalition condemns this high-handed and blatant show of force and impunity against the online media owners by the Police. It is of grave concern that the alleged offences which are civil in nature have attracted the visitation of state powers to criminalize and personalize what ought to be the personal hassle of Mr. Idris.
While the Coalition hopes that the judiciary which has been invited to offer redress against fundamental rights violations by Daniel Elombah would not only weigh in as expected, we call on the appropriate authorities of the federal government and indeed the international community to take note of this ill-advised move by the police to apply state apparatus to matters of a civil nature.
We also view this impunity against the Elombahs as an affront against free speech and press freedom in the country and we call on the Police to desist from this ignominious path.
While we acknowledge that the media and journalists are not above the law, any redress against perceived libelous content should be sought within the ambit of the law.
Secretariat for The Coalition for Press Freedom and Whistleblower Protection (CPFWP)