In the space of three years, several Nigeria journalist and bloggers have been arrested and detained across Nigeria solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and upholding the tenets of their career.
Its unfortunate that the infamous quote of former military ruler of Uganda, Idi Amin “There is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech” is now a reality in Nigeria.
Section 22 of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution provides that, “the press, radio, television and other agencies of mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people”.
A timeline check reveals that between August 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari came into power and March 2018, at least 17 journalists and bloggers have been arrested, detained and even jailed.
On 25 August, 2015, Seun Oloketuyi, was arrested and detained at the Ikoyi Prison over an alleged malicious publication against the MD of a Bank, He was eventually released after a court granted him bail in the sum of N3 million.
On 8 August, 2016, Abubakar Sidiq Usman, blogger was arrested by the anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over an unfavourable publication about EFCC acting chairman Ibrahim Magu.
On September 5, 2016, Ahmad Salkida, a journalist was arrested by the DSS over accusation that he was concealing information about the whereabouts of the Chibok girls.
On October 15, 2016, James Emeh, the Editor in Chief of a news website, Igbere TV was arrested by men of the State Security Service (SSS) for publishing an anti-Buhari content.
On April 9, 2017, Austin Okai, blogger was arrested in Abuja by security operatives believed to be from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS over alleged criticisms of the government of Kogi state.
On March 13, 2017, Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo, blogger, was arrested and imprisoned and only regained after over eight months in detention.
On April 19, 2017, Midat Joseph, a journalist with Leadership Newspaper, was arrested and detained on April 19, 2017 over a comment he had made in a WhatsApp chat.
Other Nigerians, bloggers and journalists who who have gotten a dose of the harassment for critical reporting or speech include Audu Maikori, Luka Binniyat, Bishir Dauda, Emenike Iroegbu, Chris Kehinde Nwandu, Jamilu Mubai, Emmanuel Ojo, Desmond Ike Chima, Kassim Afegbua, Jones Abiri and Tony Ezimakor.
Tony Ezimakor was released today, 7th of March after spending 7 days in the custody The Department of State Service (DSS).