By Frank Tietie, Esq., Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER)
The Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER) calls on the State Security Service (DSS) of Nigeria to immediately release from its detention facility, Mr. Tony Ezimakor, a journalist, designated as the Abuja Bureau Chief of Daily Independent Newspaper.
It is utterly shameful for state authorities to use punitive detention as a means of attempting to stifle truth which is the raison d’état of Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) which guarantees the right to freedom of expression and to freely hold opinions. It is therefore, a despicable posture by the DSS to deprive the Nigerian citizen of his ‘right to know’ and the journalists’ right to freely express or publish facts together with his opinion on those facts.
The DSS must quickly realise that it would be constituting itself into an enemy of democracy in a modern Nigeria if it begins to hound journalists either for their opinions or for publishing well researched facts that have the potential of exposing corruption and grand scale deceit in official circles.
Ezimakor’s published investigative report on the involvement of a Swiss Foreign Service agent, and the alleged clandestine payment of the sum of 2 Million US Dollars by the Nigerian government to secure the release of the kidnapped Chibok girls, deserves commendation in a country as Nigeria where journalists are least motivated to be so professional.
Since it has become the warped duty of government officials to operate the business of government in such sinister secrecy and thereafter making painstaking efforts to hide truth, in order to continue to ensconce the culture of mediocrity and unaccountability to the Nigeria people, it behooves the Nigeria journalist to courageously discharge his responsibility according to the provisions of *Section 22 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria* (as altered), by publishing facts that would expose corruption, ineptitude and official irresponsibility.
Governance is serious business and operates with very high standards under the constant scrutiny of journalists. It is only a government that is operated by intellectually lazy persons that resorts to tyranny to ward off scrutiny and accountability.
It is also a lazy and cheap approach for state security agents to arrest journalists in clear attempt to intimidate them and thereafter proceed to fish for non-extent evidence with which to prosecute them.
Whereas, an arrested person in Nigeria can only be detained for a maximum period of 24 hours or otherwise 48 hours, before being charged to court, security agents, particularly the DSS and the Nigerian Police have so abused *Section 100 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act* (ACJA) to unjustly incarcerate persons against their fundament human rights, thereby giving the impression that the government is against the people in matters of freedom and justice.
Therefore, the members of the National Assembly must immediately amend the ACJA by jettisoning the obnoxious provisions of Section 100, or else they would henceforth, be the next set of major victims of government’s tyranny after the journalists.
If Ezimako is not charged to court after 4 days of detention and a needless raid on his house by armed state security men, it would then be clear that he has become a victim of government tyranny and official intimidation.
It is in the interest of all Nigerian citizens, including the officials of State Security Service and, a progressive future, to adhere to the clear principles of law and justice as contained in the Nigerian constitution, in order to guarantee freedom, liberty and a sustained practice of democracy in Nigeria