The Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, (OPAN), Nigeria’s premier association of digital/new media publishers, has condemned in a strong terms, the arrest of the Publisher and Editor of United Kingdom based online news website, elombah.com by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Nigeria Police Force on “Orders from Above.”
BigPen Online recalls that the elombah.com Editor, Tim was arrested alongside his brother, Daniel Elombah, a UK-based attorney from their family house in Edoji-Uruagu Nnewi, Anambra State, Eastern Nigeria in the wee hours of New Year’s day.
While Tim’s brother and the publisher of elombah.com, Daniel Elombah was released late Monday night, January 1, 2018 on personal recognition, the news media Editor, Tim was today (Tuesday) remanded in prison custody for seven (7) days by a Grade 1, Area Court in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
However reacting to the development, Austyn Ogannah President, Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, OPAN in a statement obtained by BigPen Online, strongly condemns the brazen arrest of the duo of Daniel Elombah and Tim Elombah, respectively.
The statement said that the police had declined to publicly state why the journalists were brutalized and arrested in the wee hours of New Year’s Day in their family home in Nnewi, Anambra State.
However, independent finding shows that the arrest was premised on an opinion article titled “ IGP Ibrahim Idris’s Unending Baggage of Controversies” written by Eboiwei Dickson, that was published on the website as well as dozens of other sites, which the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris found offensive, it held.
“OPAN views the assault on elombah.com as part of a sustained plot by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to intimidate and suppress press freedom, the statement further said.
It added; “We wish to remind this administration that we are in a democratic dispensation.
“The practice of using security agencies to harass journalists, especially those operating in the digital media must STOP.
“We implore this administration to respect free speech and protect the fundamental rights of citizens, whilst also urging the judicial arm of government not to allow its judges and courts become a tool in the hands of dictators and oppressors, to legitimize their abuse and violation of human rights”.