The furore that followed the arrest and illegal detention of Jonathan Elendu of ElenduReports.com has yet to die down when the news broke that yet another blogger had been arrested by the State Security Service (SSS).
According to Committe to Protect Journalists: NIGERIA: Second U.S.-based Nigerian blogger held
Emmanuel Emeka Asiwe, editor of the Arlington, Mass.-based HuhuOnline, was being “questioned over matters of national security,” according to State Security Service (SSS) spokesman Kenechukwu Onyeogu. The SSS took the blogger into custody today after he arrived from the U.S., he said. But defense lawyer Babalola Akinwumi told CPJ Asiwe was arrested on Tuesday at Lagos’ airport. Asiwe has been held incommunicado and without charge in Abuja ever since, the lawyer said. Nigerian law allows authorities to hold people for up to 48 hours without charge.
“We are concerned that Nigerian authorities are detaining journalists in an attempt to intimidate foreign-based online journalists from reporting on Nigeria,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. “We call on President Yar’Adua to ensure that the SSS respects due process and stop these actions that undermine Nigeria’s democratic gains and harken back to the era of military rule.”
Jonathan Elendu of the Lansing, Michigan-based ElenduReports was detained for 10 days and was provisionally released without charge on Wednesday. ElenduReports published often controversial reports on corruption among Nigerian politicians. New York-based SaharaReporters recently published exclusive photos of Yar’Adua’s teenage son, Musa, posing with an AK-47 assault rifle and holding cash.
The SSS, in my opinion, is always about regime security and not necessarily state security. Are they the ones to launder the image of the President and his family? Which policeman gave his AK-47 assault rifle to the President’s son to poise with? What if the little boy had accidentally cocked and shot the rifle? Who took the photograph? Is it possible for a journalist (local or foreign) to enter Aso Rock (residence & office of the President of Nigeria) and take a shot of the President’s son holding an assault rifle? If the answer is no, then who took that photograph?
Why is the SSS hounding bloggers for publishing this photo? Any journalist worth his sort would gladly publish a big scoop like this. About Musa Yar’Adua gleefully holding some Naira notes in another shot, I am confused as to the motive of whoever took the photo. If it was taken by a matured person, the photographer was obviously exploiting the boy’s naivety but why blame bloggers for publishing the photo?
We are in 2008 and with the power of the Internet and citizenship journalism, the media has become much stronger and government secrets are much more difficult to keep. I am sure there would have been much more scoops if General Sani Abacha was Head of State today.
In the words of Sokari Ekine – a respected Nigerian blogger based in the UK: FREE Jonathan Elendu NOW!
[…]With the rise of sites such as Nigerian Village Square and Sahara Reporters as well as the growing number of Nigerian bloggers writing from the Disapora, it has become increasingly more difficult to keep up the pretense of a free press. Whilst the new online media and bloggers are prepared to take on the government, albeit from afar and in most cases anonymously, this does not excuse the failure of traditional media to challenge the government on freedom of speech, through the media itself or the courts.
President Umaru Yar’Adua is fast loosing my trust. Are we not supposed to be in a democratic dispensation? Can anyone tell me the difference between the SSS of today and that of the dark days of Gen. Sani Abacha? Well, anyone who thinks they can cow 140 million Nigerians into morons who would not publicly question the activities of their elected leaders should think again.
Enough of this hounding of journalists and bloggers. It is up to the staff around the Presidency to behave responsibly. Placing an assault rifle in the hands of such a young child is obviously irresponsible. Stop hounding journalists and bloggers who are in pursuit of the truth!
NB. Dear Director of SSS, would you be so kind to return Jonathan Elendu’s personal effects or let us know why you are still keeping them? After all, the SSS is reported to have stating that there is nothing incriminating against Elendu. Thank you Sir.
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