……..Says Journalists in Yenagoa are no longer safe
Uchenna Nwafor, Yenagoa
The Chairman of the Bayelsa Federated Newspapers Publishers Association (BAFENPA), an umbrella body of newspaper publishers in Bayelsa state, Mr. Ayibatari Easterday has given a 48 hours ultimatum to the state government for the release of Chief Jones Abiri, the publishers of Weekly Source Newspaper who was abducted last Thursday by state security operatives.
EasterDay who lamented that journalists in the state are no longer safe, said if after 48 hours, the whereabouts of Chief Abiri is not known, journalists in the state would not have any other alternative than to take to the streets, even to Abuja to register their protests.
Armed security operatives who said they were from the headquarters of the Department of the State Security (DSS) had on Thursday invaded the newspaper publishing house owned by the Publishers of the Weekly Source and arrested the Publisher, Chief Jones Abiri over alleged unknown offences.
The armed security operatives, who arrived the publishing office in the early hours of morning in three cars with registration numbers SAG 391AA, PBT 480 AA and Lagos 193 DN, ignored questions from Journalists and colleague publishers and whisked him to an unknown destination.
It was gathered that after much pressure from the Journalists present at the scene, one of the security operative simply said Chief Jones Abiri was arrested over issues of National Security.
According to eye witness account, the security men carted away several documents from his office and left with the publisher, “while the search lasted, the security personnel didn’t allow anyone into the office.”
Attempts by some Journalists and the leadership of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to confirm the whereabout of the Publisher met brick wall as the State headquarters of the DSS and other relevant security agencies denied knowledge of the arrest,” we have searched and could not trace his whereabouts. But a source at the DSS said no security agent can come to the state and effect any arrest without prior information to them”.
But the BAFENPA Chairman, Mr. EasterDay Ayibatari while speaking to journalists yesterday in Yenagoa, said they have combed all the security agencies in the state, and could not trace the whereabouts of their colleague.
His words, “As I speak with you now, we are yet to know the whereabouts of our colleague, all the security formations in the state which includes the DSS, the state SCID, SARS, Police Headquarters, even the A division and B division, including Akenfa police station, and all these places we have gone and they said they don’t know the whereabouts of Jones Abiri.
“But the people who carried him away from his office, verbally told us that they were from the state security services. And if at their office, the people said they did not mandate anybody to go and arrest Abiri, neither did any police operatives from Abuja came into the state for such arrest, it is deemed that we have a very porous security system in Bayelsa state.
“We also remember very well that not quite long, a certain police officer was killed in Yenagoa by police men who said they came from PortHarcourt. They gained access into Yenagoa here, passed through the gate way, and abducted this man, killed him and took him to PortHarcourt . We have the fear that our colleague who was on drugs, (not feeling fine) at the time of his abduction must either have been killed or his condition, deteriorated.
Easterday who noted that if somebody committed an offense, his people and the offender himself should know the kind of offense he committed, and he should be formerly charged to court, however called on the Bayelsa state government which said it is built on the rule of law, to demonstrate that they are for the rule of law.