Human RightsNews

5 Journalists Arrested As Nigeria Police Raid Peoples Gazette’s Head Office

Since the military era, media houses and journalists have come under frequent attacks from security forces, and the situation is not better even under democratic rule.

The Nigerian police, on Friday, July 22, raided the Head Office of Peoples Gazette located in the Utako area of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, and arrested five staff members of the newspaper.

Those arrested during the raid included John Adenekan, an assistant managing editor of the online platform. Others are Ameedat Adeyemi, Grace Oke, Sammy Ogbu, and Justina Tayani.

According to an earlier report on the incident, the police officers were looking for Managing Editor Samuel Ogundipe and reporter Adefemola Akintade. In the absence of the duo, the officers also arrested other staff. 

Since the military era, security forces have had a history of targeting media organisations and journalists. 

The military government in Nigeria barred Newswatch magazine in 1988, one of the country’s news magazines opposing the government at the time, for six months. Journalists working with the media outlet faced repeated harassment by state security agents.

Some journalists intimidated and arrested by the police before democratic rule in 1999 include Adetokunbo Fakeye, defence correspondent for The News; Jenkins Alumona, editor of The News; and Onome Osifo-Whiskey, managing editor of Tell magazine; Babafemi Ojudu, editor of the News/Tempo, Rafiu Salau, an administration editor for the News/Tempo, Olatunji Dare, former chairman of the editorial board of The Guardian.

Even after the return of democracy, security forces continued the  attack on journalists. They do this repeatedly over reports considered offensive despite the provision of the Constitution that mandates journalists to hold power to account. 

In Jan. 2007, security agents stormed the Garki II, Abuja, headquarters of a weekly newspaper, the Abuja Inquirer. They arrested the publisher, Dan Akpovwa, in a raid at approximately 3.00 p.m.

Jones Abiri, publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Weekly Source Newspaper in southern Bayelsa, was arrested in 2016 by SSS for alleged links to armed militancy in the Niger Delta. They detained him for two years. However, Abiri regained freedom after an intense campaign by activists and the media.

Abiri was rearrested in March 2019 and spent another seven months in prison before being granted bail by the Federal High Court in Abuja. 

In 2017,  police raided Premium Times head office and arrested the newspaper’s publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi, alongside ex-judiciary correspondent, Evelyn Okakwu.

Recall that Ogundipe while working at Premium Times was detained for five days in 2018 over allegations that he had classified documents capable of causing a breach of national security and a breakdown of law and order.

In 2019, the Nigerian Army and police raided offices of Daily Trust newspaper in Abuja and Maiduguri, citing disclosure of classified security information related to military operations in the northeast of the country. 

Media groups and local journalism unions have been advocating for the protection of journalists in Nigeria. As a result, Nigeria ranks 120 out of 180 countries on The World Press Freedom Index Reporters Without Borders.

HumAngle contacted Muyiwa Adejobi, spokesperson of the Nigeria Police Force for comment on the raid of Gazette’s office, but he did not respond to calls and text messages. 

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Adejumo Kabir

Kabir works at HumAngle as the Editor of Southern Operations. He is interested in community development reporting, human rights, social justice, and press freedom. He was a finalist in the student category of the African Fact-checking Award in 2018, a 2019 recipient of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence, and a 2020 recipient of the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award. He was also nominated in the journalism category of The Future Awards Africa in 2020. He has been selected for various fellowships, including the 2020 Civic Media Lab Criminal Justice Reporting Fellowship and 2022 International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) 'In The Name of Religion' Fellowship.

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