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Nigerian Journalists, under the auspices of Concerned Journalists Forum, have cried to President Muhammad Buhari, to intervene and set free, a 72-year old Oga Tom Uhia from the Police detention.
Pa. Uhia, a native of Benue State, has been under secret detention for 25 days, over a publication against the Honourable Minister of State for Power, Jeddy Agba in the July 2020 edition of his Power Steering Magazine.
Addressing newsmen yesterday in Abuja, Comrade Yemi Itodo, who spoke on behalf of the group, expressed worries over the deteriorating health condition of the Septuagenarian, called for his immediate release or arraignment.
Itodo also tackled the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) in charge of Force Criminal Investigation & Intelligence Department (FCIID), Anthony Ogbizi, who is the immediate younger brother to the Minister’s mother, over the continuous detention of the Journalist.
“The only crime this Septuagenarian committed was that, as an investigative Journalist, he dared to uncover a lot of frauds and alleged shady deals of a much younger Nigeria’s Minister of State for Power, Mr. Goddy Jeddy Agba, while he was a top management member of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the last dispensation.
“Pa. Uhia was arrested and being detained on the order of Mr. Agba. The Nigeria Union of Journalists, both national and FCT Council have visited the Honourable Minister repeatedly and pleaded that the old man should be released or charged to court. But the Minister has refused to let go.
“He is currently being held at the Force CID, area 10 Garki Abuja, where the immediate younger brother to Mr. Jeddy Agba’s mother, Anthony Ogbizi is holding sway as the Deputy Inspector-General of Police”, Itodo said.
He added that, despite fulfilling the bail conditions stipulated by the Police, the publisher was still being held, even without having access to medical facilities.
He said, “at a time that Nigerians, all over the world are clamouring for a reform of the Nigeria Police Force, it is very appalling that the leadership of the Force is not ready to embrace civility or any form of reform.
“More appalling, too, is the hypocrisies of Nigerian government. Instead of learning from the ugly scenarios that engraved the whole of October 2020 across the country, the Nigerian government is still paying lip service to ending Police brutality. The government claimed it has ended SARS but the brutality and impunity of the Police remains unchecked”.
Itodo stressed that, “Journalism is the only profession that the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes. Ironically, the same Minister of State for Power who sworn to an oath of allegiance to uphold the constitution and the DIG who is a child of the same constitution, would allow our law book, our dignified identity to be messed with”.
While calling on the Inspector-General of Police to rise to the occasion of redeeming the image of the Police Force, by releasing Pa. Uhia immediately or charge him to court, Itodo said whatever publication the Journalist did was not worst a crime that he should be kept in detention till he dies.
“We also call on President Muhammad Buhari, to prevail on his Minister of State for Power, to let go of the Journalist, so as to reunite with his family. As the 4th estate of the realm, Journalists are partners in the business of governance and when they are given enabling environment to function, the government too will be better for it.
“The endless impunity and executive rascality on the part of government appointees and agents of government, does not in any way define good government”, Itodo added.