Following reported siege by armed police operatives and the consequent invitation for interrogation of three reporters of Leadership Newspaper group by the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters over the story carried by the newspaper on a purported Presidential directive to the Independent National Electoral Commission not to register the Buhari/Bola Tinubu-led Action Congress Alliance [APC] and also for the nation’s security to keep close watch on some governors perceived as opponents of President Jonathan’s secret ambition to run for another term in 2015, the Federal Government has been advised to choose the path of constitutionalism by going to court if it has any case against the journalists rather than resort to crude tactics of self help effort.
Media reports quoting a purported police summon endorsed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police Mr. Danmallam Mohammed, [Administration] at the Force Headquarters on behalf of the Deputy Inspector General of Police who heads the Administration’s department of the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja sent to the Chairman of Leadership Newspapers- Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, said the police was investigating the circumstances that led to the publication of a front page story with the headline “outrage trails presidential directive on Tinubu, APC” and sub-titled “Bromide of the Presidential directive”.
The Police Force Headquarters said the two reporters that anchored the story and the Group News Editor of the Paper were required to appear before the Deputy Inspector General of Police for interrogation on Monday April 8th 2013.
But HURIWA asked the nation’s police to stop playing ‘political pranks’ and concentrate their energy towards restoring peace and security across the country at a time of serious attacks on civilian targets by armed terrorists in the North. HURIWA also tasked the Nigeria Police to focus more on how to regain respect of the Nigerian people rather than dwell in the crude tactics of being used as tools in the hands of politicians to oppress their perceived political opponents and dissenting voices.
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA [HURIWA], a media focused Non-Governmental Organization reacting to the development in a statement to the media jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf condemned the reported police siege of the premises of the Leadership Newspapers in Abuja and urged President Good luck Jonathan to direct the hierarchy of the Nigeria police Force to stop harassing the reporters and other allied workers of the Leadership Newspapers but to go to court if they have evidence that the said report was false and malicious.
Besides, HURIWA said it was wrongheaded for the Federal Government to resort to the use of armed police operatives to intimidate and psychologically harass journalists any time the Government feels that an unfavorable story has enjoyed wider media sympathy just as the Rights group reminded the Government that section 22 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria obliges the Nigerian Media to hold the government officials to account to the people of Nigeria who are the owners of the sovereignty of Nigeria. HURIWA however cautioned the media to be objective, balance and non-partisan in their news reporting since they are the conscience of the nation.
The Rights group stated thus; “The reported siege laid on the premises of the Leadership newspapers in Abuja by armed police on the orders of the powers- that- be over a recent exclusive story is another dimension of the emerging scenarios of gestapo style operations of the security agents who may still believe that Nigeria is still under military dictatorship”.
“The media has the independent constitutional mandate to inform, educate, and entertain Nigerians and if in the event of carrying out these functions the practitioners are presumed to have erred, then the law enforcement officials must respect the due process of the law and use civilize approach to gather their body of evidence if they are convinced that what the media wrote was false and/or malicious. Nigeria Police Force must not be used as an attack dog of the government since they are set up in the first place to enforce the rule of law”.