Reporter Detained for “Illegal” Filming, Colleague threatened for Reporting on the Detention

A journalist has been arbitrary detained in prison for two days after she was arrested for taking pictures of an operation by an Environmental and Waste Management Agency set up by the Government of Akwa Ibom State, while another journalist has been threatened for reporting the violation.

Mary Ekere, who reports for The Post newspaper in Uyo, capital of Akwa Ibom State, was put before court on September 17, 2019, a day after she was arrested, and returned to prison for a second night on charges that are still not clear.

“They were on illegal operation, obviously. So, they arrested her for taking the photos, pushed her into their vehicle, and then threw her into jail just like that,” Gideon Ekere, the editor-in-chief of The Post, told Sahara Reporters.

Meanwhile, another journalist, Cletus Ukpong, who reported on the illegal arrest and detention of Ekere and shared it on his timeline, has also been threatened with arrest and imprisonment. Cristo Ekpoh, a close associate of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, issued the threat against Ukpong, a Regional Editor of the Premium Times.

Ekpoh took to Premium Times’s Facebook timeline to condemn the report on Mary’s arrest.

“Misleading headline by Cletus Ukpong to tarnish the image of the governor; it should have been you that was thrown into prison,” Ekpoh posted.

The journalist said that Ekpoh also threatened to deal with him anywhere he is found.

Following the detention of Ekere on Monday, September 16, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), wrote to the State authorities to demand the journalist’s release. The letter signed by Inimfon Silas, State Chairman of the NUJ, and Anthony Udoh, his Secretary, also threatened legal action if their colleague is not released.

The MFWA condemns the arbitrary detention of Ekere and call on the authorities in Nigeria to ensure that the perpetrators are punished. We urge the Nigerian Union of journalists (NUJ) and the management of The Post to take up the issue and ensure that Ekere gets justice. We also condemn the threat against Ukpong for merely reporting the wrongful arrest of his colleague, and urge the journalist to report the threat to the police.

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