Segun Owolabi, a senior news officer with Rhythm 93 FM radio inPort Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital in the Niger Delta region, was arrested by officers of the State Security Service (SSS),Nigeria’s intelligence service, and detained overnight before being released in the afternoon of March 15.Owolabi was detained at the SSS Headquarters in Port Harcourt.
He was arrested for airing a news item on the radio station about a planned peaceful protest against the Port Harcourt District of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the Federal Government-owned electricity generating and Distribution Company. A non-governmental organization called Directory of Nigeria, organized the protest to draw the attention of residents ofPort Harcourt to the worsening power situation in the state.
The news item, aired on March 13, reportedly led to some senior management staff of PHCN accusing the station of being used to cause a breach of the peace and to incite the public to vandalise its facilities. Following the complaint, some plain-clothed operatives of the SSS raided the station and arrested Owolabi.Owolabi said that during his detention, he was asked to make a statement on the broadcast and warned to refrain from doing anything that could jeopardise peace in the state. He said: “I was put inside a cell from 16 Hours on (March 14) till this afternoon (15 March) when I was released.” His release followed the intervention of the Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Magnus Abe, and the Chief Press Secretary to the Rivers State Governor, Emma Okah, who pleaded with the state Director of the SSS, Alhaji Kolawole Adesina, to release him.