In Akwa Ibom Police arrest journalist for allegedly criticising Deputy Gov, SERAP kicks

SERAP has threatened to drag the State Government to court if the journalist is not released immediately and unconditionally.

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Akwa Ibom State Deputy Governor, Moses Ekpo play

Akwa Ibom State Deputy Governor, Moses Ekpo

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the Akwa Ibom State government to order the "immediate and unconditional" release of a journalist, Nsibiet John, who was reportedly arrested by the police on Thursday, January 6.

According to a statement signed by the senior staff attorney of SERAP, Timothy Adewale, the journalist was arrested for allegedly publishing defamatory materials against the State Deputy Governor, Moses Ekpo.

The group described the arrest as an intimation and harassment of the media and threatened to take legal action against the state government if it fails to release the journalist.

The statement reads in part: "SERAP unequivocally condemns this abuse of power and harassment and intimidation of a journalist simply doing his job. Journalists who allege officials’ abuse of power or report on things deemed unfavourable shouldn’t face unlawful arrest and retaliation.

"It’s unacceptable for the government of Akwa Ibom State to harass and intimidate the media, leaving journalists to live in fear. Media freedom shouldn’t be fair game for the government of Akwa Ibom State or other states of the federation for that matter.

"SERAP believes that no one should be arrested simply for criticising public institution or public figures.

"This action by the deputy governor and the state police authorities is contrary to both section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

 "If Mr John is not released immediately and unconditionally, SERAP will pursue appropriate legal action against the government of Akwa Ibom State for violations of constitutionally and internationally recognized right to freedom of expression and media freedom."

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John, who was said to have been arrested by police detectives from the State Police Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, publishes a local newspaper called 'The Ink.'

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