From Ayodele Samuel Lagos
The Nigeria Union of Journalists and the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has called for the unconditional release of detained Journalist Tony Ezimakor, the Abuja Bureau Chief of The Independent Newspapers.
He has been in the custody of the Department of State Security Service for four days now.
The NUJ and other well-meaning stakeholders had earlier engaged some highly placed government officials to secure the release of the journalist who is suffering from hypertension but to no avail.
NUJ National Secretary, Shuaibu Usman in a statement said the groups are worried that his health will continue to deteriorate under the condition that he is being held.
“We insist that the authorities must immediately release Tony Ezimakor and permit journalists to operate without fear of arrest . The Muhammad Buhari Government should seize the opportunity to end such blatant attempts to intimidate journalists and make press freedom a priority for the administration.” Usman said.
Also MURIC considers the continued detention of Tony Ezimakor without arraigning him in a competent court of law as draconian, tyrannical, illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
MURIC Director Professor Ishaq Akintola, said section 23 of the Police Act stipulates that suspects cannot be detained beyond 24 hours after which the person should be charged to court in conformity with the basic constitutional rights of citizens.
“As a security agency, the DSS should not consider itself excluded from this provision. To do otherwise will amount to impunity and an encroachment on Allah-given fundamental rights of a Nigerian citizen.
Section 36 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees right to fair hearing and only a court of competent jurisdiction can establish the judicial principle of audi alterem partem. We therefore demand that Ezeakor be brought to court if the DSS has anything against him.”
MURIC reminds the DSS of the stipulations of Article 4, Clause 1 & 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which guarantees the integrity of every Homo sapiens: “Human beings are inviolable.
Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.”
MURIC warned that Tony Ezeakor has a health condition as an hypertensive individual and further detention is most likely to worsen his condition.
It also cautioned the DSS not to do anything likely to damage the good name of the Buhari administration particularly in international circles.