by crossriverwatch admin
A civil society organization in Calabar, Movement for the Empowerment of Cross River Peoples, MECRIP has condemned unequivocally the arrest and continued detention of a crossriverwatch reporter, Mr. Emmanuel Unah by the Police in Calabar on the orders of the State Deputy Governor, Mr. Efiok Cobham.
In a statement signed by Bar. Obono Obla, the group said: “The Movement for the Empowerment of Cross River Peoples, MECRIP strongly and unequivocally condemn the arrest last night of a Calabar based Journalist, Mr. Emmanuel Unah by a team of Police Officers on the directives of the Government of Cross River State of Nigeria over a story he wrote on the online Newspaper, Cross River Watch concerning the family of the Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Efiok Cobham.
“We frown against the re-enactment of the obnoxious tactics deployed and employed by the Gestapo in Nazi Germany and adopted by military dictators in Nigeria during the heydays of military dictatorship in the country a decade ago in a supposed democratically clime.
“These crude tactics employed and deployed by military dictatorship and totalitarians including the arbitrary arrest and incarceration of dissenters of the prevailing social and political order have no place in a democratic environment such as ours.
“We are therefore flummoxed that such tactics are being used in Cross River State under the guise that the Deputy Governor was defamed.
“Why is wrong in critiquing in a constructive manner the Deputy Governor? Is the Deputy Governor a demigod? Is the Deputy Governor not accountable to the people?
“We shudder that the Government of Cross River State would even contemplate the arrest of Mr. Unah on the frivolous ground that he wrote a defamatory story concerning the Deputy Governor; without bothering to accord him his fundamental right to fair hearing. In any case, defamation is not a criminal offence under any stretch of imagination. It is a civil remedy.
“The government has over reacted by directing the Commissioner of Police to arrest Mr. Unah in the dead of the night by a contingent of Mobile Police Force.
“If Mr. Unah defamed the family of Mr. Cobham; the lawful thing to do is for the Government to file a complaint against him to the Nigeria Press Council.
“It is the Nigeria Press Council that is statutorily empowered to deal with complaints against journalists bordering on unprofessional conduct by them.
“The truth of the matter is that the arrest and subsequent detention of Mr. Unah amounts to a violation of his fundamental right to freedom of personal liberty as secured and guaranteed by Section 35 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, 2010.
“Section 6 of the African Charter provides that provides that every individual shall have the right to liberty and to the security of his person.
“No one may be deprived of his freedom except for reasons and conditions previously laid down by law. In particular no one may be arbitrarily arrested or detained.
“In the light of the above, we call on the Government of Cross River State to immediately release Mr. Unah.
“Alternatively If the Government feels strongly that Mr. Unah has breached the law it should promptly arraign before a Court of Competent Jurisdiction.” The statement concluded.
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