Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA), has lambasted Imo State government for its attempt to justify the gestapo type abduction by some unidentified armed men in the street of Owerri, near the Roman Catholic Cathedral Church Owerri at the weekend, of a radio journalist, Nonso Uba, over alleged libel against the person of the Imo State Góvernór Hope Uzodimma.
HURIWA asked the Nigeria Police Force to immediately free the abducted journalist, apologise for the illegal manner of his arrest and/ or charge him to the competent court of law if the governor has good enough evidence and must be ready to submit himself to court to establish his allegation of libel against the Owerri-based journalist.
HURIWA also tasked the Police Service Commission to ascertain how the Nigeria Police Force could mobilise huge financial resources to probably fly a chartered aircraft or pay for the expensive tickets on commercial airlines with the sole purpose of invading Owerri to arrest a journalist over civil libel.
HURIWA said that libel or slander under the Nigerian jurisprudence as in most jurisdictions around the world is essentially a civil matter, just as the rights group maintained that it was unnecessary for the Imo State governor to reach out to the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, which led to what most eye witnesses had described as broad daylight armed kidnapping of a citizen of Nigeria and a professional radio journalist, Uba.
The rights group said the strident effort by the spokesperson of the Imo State government to justify this illegality and the gestapo style abduction of a citizen of Imo State, is untenable and absolutely illogical.
HURIWA expressed shock that under a democracy, the Police operatives paid with taxpayers’ money can behave like terrorists or kidnappers by double crossing the moving car driven by a journalist, Uba, in their overzealous determination to display crude force leading to the abandonment of the car of the journalist by the roadside after he was reportedly whisked away and flown to Abuja.
“If we may ask, is the treasury of the Nigeria Police Force overflowing with slush fund made up of United States dollars that it is now going about abducting citizens accused by a governor and then flying him to Abuja from Owerri when the investigation could have been handled by the nearest Divisional police officer and if it is an actionable matter then the accused person is invited with his legal representative and the matter handed over to the prosecution team to take to the competent Court of law for adjudication with all the constitutional rights of fairness, objectivity and neutrality allowed for an unfettered determination lawfully?