After meeting bail conditions set for him by a court, Bayelsa-based journalist, Jones Abiri, has been set free from the detention facility of the Department of State Services.
Abiri’s plight came to the forefront at the last International Press Institute meeting in Abuja six weeks ago when the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) raised alarm over his detention for two years without trial.
Then Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, like Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, debunked the report by the press freedom organization, Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ), that a certain Nigerian journalist has been in detention for the past two years.
The Minister, who issued the rebuttal at the Gala/Award Night of the International Press Institute (IPI) in Abuja late June said the person the CPJ was referring to was never a journalist.
“Let me state here, without equivocating, that contrary to the report by the Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ), no journalist is in detention in Nigeria. Clement Abiri, who is being referred to as a journalist, is not one. He does not belong to any chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists. He was arrested for pipeline vandalism and crude theft, including militant activities in the Niger Delta,” he said.
But the outrage over Mr Abiri’s arrest and detention by the DSS continued.
The publisher of the Weekly Source Magazine was arrested for alleged links to militancy in the Niger Delta, on July 21, 2016, at his office in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
Following public outcry, Abiri was eventually charged with the offence on July 27, 2018, at the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Wuse Zone 2 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
He granted him bail in the sum of N2 million and two sureties whom the court said must be civil servants not lower than level 12. The conditions were reviewed last week after complaints from his lawyer that they were too stringent for Abiri.