The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has condemned the arrest of four Leadership newspaper journalists by the police, apparently acting on orders from above, for no reason other than for carrying out their constitutionally-assigned role.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the arrest, over a story the government has refuted, is the worst attack against press freedom under the Jonathan Administration, and a sign of the seemingly-inevitable descent into dictatorship by an increasingly-desperate presidency.
It said the arrest is also a sign of things to come, warning that the Administration will increasingly seek to tamper with press freedom as it pushes its do-or-die plan to stay in power, with or without the people’s votes.
ACN said the alleged vow by the police not to allow the detained journalists to leave until they have revealed the source of their story has shown that the Leadership’s story – on the plan by the presidency to scuttle the merger of progressives and target key leaders of the emerging All Progressives’ Congress (APC) – is indeed true.
”Why will the police, and by extension those who are playing the puppeteers in this case, be interested in the source of a story that the government has described as fake? This confirms the saying that anywhere one sees a ‘no thoroughfare sign’, there is indeed a road!
The party also criticized the police for pushing the detained journalists to act against the ethics of their profession by disclosing the source of their story, and hailed the journalists for rejecting such request and the newspaper’s management for standing by its story and refusing to be cowed.
”We demand an immediate and unconditional release of the detained journalists and the tendering of an unreserved apology to them. And if the police is convinced that the journalists have broken any law, it should charge them to court. After all, the police cannot be the accuser and the judge at the same time.
”To the Jonathan Administration, we say no government, whether elected or not and irrespective of its level of brutality, has ever won any battle against the media, and this administration will not be the first!” ACN warned.