Nigerian police should immediately release journalist Samuel Ogundipe, drop all charges against him, and cease efforts to pressure him to reveal any journalistic sources, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Ogundipe, a reporter with the privately owned Premium Times online newspaper, was arraigned yesterday in a magistrate’s court in the Kubwa suburb of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, after police detained him overnight and repeatedly tried to force him to reveal the source for an article about the inspector general of police, according to Musikilu Mojeed, editor-in-chief of Premium Times, and Esther Bassey, one of the journalist’s lawyers, who said the arraignment was illegal. Police from Nigeria’s special armed robbery squad, commonly known as SARS, on August 13 also briefly detained Azeezat Adedigba, an education reporter from Premium Times, and used her phone to summon and arrest Ogundipe, Mojeed and Adedigba told CPJ.
“Nigerian authorities should immediately release journalist Samuel Ogundipe and drop all charges against him. No journalist should be forced to reveal their sources,” Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, said from Nairobi, Kenya. “Nigeria’s authorities have too often proven brazenly willing to flout the law in order to intimidate the press.”
According to the charge sheet seen by CPJ, Ogundipe was charged with “criminal trespass, theft … and having possession of Police Interim Investigation report” under sections 352, 288, and 319(a) of the Nigerian penal code. Bassey told CPJ that the sections of the penal code did not seem to match the charges.