The Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN), the flagship organization for digital news publishers has called for the immediate release of the publisher of 247ureports.com, Mr Ikenna Ellis Ezenekwe who was arrested by the Nigerian police at the FCT-Abuja on the morning of July 5, 2021 over an article published on the website.
The call for the release of journalist Ikenna was contained in a statement jointly signed by the president and secretary of the group, Austyn Ogannah and Daniel Elombah respectively.
According to the statement, since the arrest of Ikenna by men from the IGP monitoring team, he has remained in detention and has not been charged to court. OPAN described the action of the police as unlawful and complete infringement of his fundamental rights.
Although the Police never formally invited him. Ikenna was arrested and taken to the national police headquarters in Asokoro where he was interrogated in the absence of his lawyer.
A former chief of staff to the former governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, Chief Primus Odili, who recently failed in his senatorial bid on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) according to OPAN, petitioned the IGP monitoring team to arrest and detain Mr. Ezenekwe over an article about him he said was libelous.
OPAN also authoritatively gathered that Chief Odili has tasked the IGP monitoring team to unmask the source of the article, which Ezeneke has declined to identify citing confidentiality and privilege between journalists and news sources.
The group said it is disturbing and unacceptable that the police could allow a citizen to use them to intimidate a journalist.
It said the police have continued to intimidate and coerce Ezenekwe demanding to know the source of his story which is totally wrong. OPAN wondered if the police is now above the laws of the land?
OPAN however, has called on the police to immediately release Mr. Ezenekwe and apologise to him for his unlawful detention.