COMMITTEE FOR THE DEFENCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS (CDHR) CHARGES THE NIGERIA POLICE ON INTIMIDATION AND HARRASMENT:
CALLS FOR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND THE PRESS
Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has furiously condemned and berated the reckless, unlawful and provocative intimidation, harassment and threat of invasion and arrest of Mr. Adumonza Isiahomhen, an Online Journalist, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of OpenLife, by Police Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department of Ekiti State Police Command, led by one Ade. The attempt of forceful invasion into Mr. Idumonza’s Office at Plot 7, Ilapo Estate, opposite AIT Alagbado, Lagos, yesterday Friday 3rd September, 2021 by Police Officers from the Ekiti State Command, Ado-Ekiti, following a story originated from an anonymous parent of a student of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, titled Afe Babalola University in Rumbles as Parents Complain of Fraud, published on Thursday, August 19, 2021, was a clear manifestation of the violation of the Journalist’s constitutionally guaranteed rights to privacy and freedom of expression and the Press, by the Officers of the Nigeria Police.
It was gathered on Friday, 3rd September, 2021 that errant Police Officers, claim to be in possession of a purported petition but refused to inform the Journalist who the Petitioner is and they refused to avail the Journalist with a copy of the petition despite the request by the Journalist. Apparently, the Officers are determined to get the Journalist arrested this weekend. Thus, without provocation and without justification, they had apparently attempted to invade the Lagos Office of the Online Journalist in search of him for his arrest.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade (Barr) Henry Ekine, made available to the Press, CDHR described the attempted invasion and unjustified threat of arrest of Comrade Idumonza as not only reckless but insensitive and callous. Comrade Ekine, on behalf of the President, Comrade (Dr.) Osagie Obayuwana, the National Executive Committee and members of CDHR, expressed the commitment of the Organization to the protection and defence of Human Rights of all persons. Injury to one is injury to all!
CDHR therefore called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Usman Baba Alkali, the Commissioner of Police, Ekiti State Command and the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, to swiftly intervene in this matter and ensure that the Journalist is not unjustly intimidated, harassed or arrested. The Human Rights Group demanded that the Inspector General of Police must caution Police Officers and Personnel to uphold Citizens’ Rights. This case, just clearly reveals the disturbing level of insensitivity to the rights of citizens; it shows gross intolerance against matters of Human Rights and Civil Rights Activists by some Policemen and other security agents.
Comrade Ekine decried how Human Rights activists have become targets for harassment by some security agents. CDHR expressed worry over the level to which the respect for Human Rights in the country has degenerated and how some Policemen have become the enemies of the citizens; they have become the perpetrators of the violation of the Rights of innocent citizens. The Police need to be more professional with the objective to promote and protect the rights of all citizens at all times; the right to freedom of expression and the Press remains a fundamental right and must be protected, especially by state agents in all circumstances. The Police must not be willing tools in the hands of people.
The foremost human rights group emphasised that the right to freedom of expression is guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amendment, as well as under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If any individual or institution feels offended by a privileged or fair publication such individual is advised to approach the Court in a civil defamation action not to employ state actors to harass and intimidate citizens with threat of arrest. The state has the positive responsibility to ensure the protection of Citizens’ Rights.