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Monday, April 15, 2024

President Tinubu should direct Nigerian military authorities to produce abducted FirstNews editor Segun Olatunji

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ABUJA, NIGERIA — The Nigerian National Committee of the International Press Institute (IPI Nigeria) is hereby calling on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to activate the powers of his office as Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces to direct the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher Musa, to produce Segun Olatunji, the Editor of FirstNews, who was abducted from his home in Lagos twelve days ago.

Multiple checks by the International Press Institute reveal that Mr Olatunji is in the custody of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), an agency under the command of Major General Emmanuel Undiandeye, who, in turn, reports to the Chief of Defence Staff, General Musa.

For the past eleven days, the abducted journalist has been kept incommunicado, with his family, employers, and colleagues unaware of his whereabouts.

IPI Nigeria has received inquiries about this matter from all over the world. The Institute has also contacted the Nigeria Police, the Nigerian Army, the Defence Intelligence Agency, the Defence Headquarters, and the Ministry of Information and National Orientation seeking information on Mr Olatunji and demanding his release. All efforts in this direction have so far failed.

That has triggered speculations among journalists and human rights activists around the world that the Nigerian military may be keeping some vital information away from the public concerning the journalist’s safety.

IPI is therefore calling on President Tinubu to direct the Nigerian military authorities to immediately release Mr Olatunji or charge him to court if he has committed any offence.

The international community should also pay attention to the unjust detention of Mr. Olatunji by the Nigerian military.

The rule of law demands that an accused person is allowed to defend himself in a court of law within a reasonable time. This also conforms with the provisions of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, which forbids the detention of any citizen or resident beyond 48 hours, except with a valid court order.

According to reports, armed men in two unmarked vans arrived at Mr Olatunji’s home in Lagos on March 15. The men, two of whom wore military-style uniforms, introduced themselves as officers of the Nigerian Army and forced Mr. Olatunji to go with them. They declined to tell his wife, who witnessed the abduction, where he was being taken.

As a matter of urgency, the military should tell the world why Mr. Olatunji was arrested, where he is being kept, and why he has not been charged in court.

IPI Nigeria is reminding the Nigerian authorities that when it comes to upholding human rights, Nigeria continues to rank low in the comity of nations. Keeping a citizen beyond the period allowed by the Constitution will only worsen Nigeria’s standing in the International community.

The time to act is now.

Musikilu Mojeed

President, IPI Nigeria

Tobi Soniyi

Legal Adviser/Chair, Advocacy CommitteeBest regards,

March 27, 2024

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