By Iliya Kure
Kaduna (Nigeria) – Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) in Kaduna, Northwest Nigeria, has condemned the arrest and imprisonment of one of its members by Kaduna State Government, less than a week to the World Press Freedom Day.
“The state government went too far by sending our colleague straight to prison without proper arraignment. His arrest and subsequent detention in the prison should have been the last resort after NUJ must have failed in addressing the matter properly.” Says a communique signed by its Chairman Garba Muhammad, at the end of extra ordinary meeting Wednesday.
The union lamented that the incident is coming on the heels of President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to stop ill-treatment of journalists.
Jacob Dickson, a member of the union, was jailed for a story he did, mentioning that Governor Nasiru El-Rufai was pelted by youth in Kaduna when he (the governor) visited a part of the city to mediate between two factions in a crisis.
He was invited by the police to write a statement and allowed to go, but was later arrested and hurriedly prosecuted and detained in prison custody.
The police said, they arrested Dickson for a story that is inciting, capable of causing disaffection among residents of Kaduna.
The communique says “We celebrated our own World Press Freedom Day in grief as a colleague was in Prison custody on the order of the state government, while another colleague died.”
The Council says it does not support lack of respect for ethics of Journalism, and therefore called “on the government to in the future report any colleague to the state council of NUJ for disciplinary action, before involving security operatives.”
Many organisations including Committee to protect Journalists and Africa Media Development Foundation had condemned the arrest and detention of the journalist, calling on concerned authorities to unconditionally release the journalists,
Committee to protect journalists Tuesday posted on its website “President Muhammadu Buhari should not let state officials make a mockery of his laudable commitments to press freedom even as he utters them,” said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. “We call on state officials to drop the charges against Jacob Onjewu Dickson and release him without delay.”
Similarly, a Media Clinic on Tuesday organised by Africa Media Development Foundation to mark the 2016 World Press Freedom Day condemned the arrest of the journalist asking Kaduna State Government and security agencies to release Dickson.