The police in Nigeria have detained the Chief Editor of the Order Paper, following a criminal complaint lodged by an influential politician over an article published by the journalist.
The National Assembly Division of the Nigerian Police Force detained Oke Epia on July 30, 2019 after he honoured their invitation for interrogation over “false publication” by his news media.
The invitation was based on a complaint by Tony Nwulu, a former member of the House of Representatives and a candidate for governorship in Nigeria’s 2019 general elections.
The newspaper had before the 2019 general elections, published a report in which individuals vying for governorship and deputy governorship positions were profiled.
In profiling Tony Nwulu, the newspaper claimed to have information about some “missing funds and projects” under the 2016 budget of Nwulu’s constituency, adding that the newspaper had reached out to him but had not received any response.
Following the publication, Epia received an invitation from police to respond to questions related to the publication. After being kept for about seven hours, he was released on bail.
Meanwhile, about nineteen media and civil society organisations including MFWA’s national partner in Nigeria, International Press Centre (IPC) have condemned the detention of the Editor as an act of “harassment and attack on press freedom.”
The MFWA equally condemns the detention of the journalist as an attempt to intimidate him and his media house. We call on the police to handle the matter fairly and professionally and to resist pressure from the former Member of Parliament to abuse the right of the journalist.