Our attention has been drawn to the arrest and detention of
a 38-year-old blogger and publisher of an online news medium, Abia
Facts, Mr. Iroegbu Emenike by the State Security Service (SSS) in Uyo,
Akwa Ibom State at about 1:00 pm on Tuesday, September 6, 2016.
According to the wife of the blogger, Mrs. Ekaette Emenike
Iroegbu, the blogger was arrested by three (3) SSS operatives who
invaded their Uyo residence in a Gestapo style in a black jeep. The
operatives took away the two phones of Mrs. Emenike; the bloggers own
phones and laptop, etc. After ransacking their apartment, they whisked
the blogger away without disclosing the reason for his arrest and their
Though the Director of SSS, Akwa Ibom State Command, Mr. Adesina informed me at about 9:04 pm
on Tuesday, September 6, that he was not aware of the blogger’s arrest,
the wife of the blogger who went to the SSS office in Uyo has confirmed
that her husband is being held by the SSS in Uyo.
Without prejudice to whatever reason may have motivated the
arrest and detention of the blogger, it is very worrisome that the
fundamental right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Section 39 of
the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is
being eroded at an alarming and unprecedented level since the inception
of the current dispensation.
Few examples will suffice.
Emmanuel Ojo, a blogger, was arrested by the Ogun State
Police Command on Saturday, September 26, 2015 on the orders of the Ogun
State governor over his publication about the governor’s wife on
Facebook. Blogger Seun Oloketuyi was equally arrested in 2015 over an
online publication. Mr. Abubakar Sidiq Usman, a popular blogger and
political commentator was arrested and detained recently by the Economic
and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged cyberstalking. Mr.
Musa Azare from Bauchi State was also arrested recently by the Nigeria
Police Force allegedly on the orders of his state governor over his
critical publications on social media
The SSS and other security agencies should resist the
emerging capricious proclivities of political office holders to use
security agencies to clampdown on Nigerians for exercising their
constitutional liberties. Democracy is being threatened in Nigeria by
the rising display of intolerance to free speech.
Will the SSS and other security agencies be willing to
arrest, detain and prosecute every Nigerian that is accused of making
offensive or derogatory publication and statement? The security agencies
should not be seen to be massaging the egos of the influential members
of the society.
Those who believe that their reputation have been lowered
in the eyes of right thinking members of the society should explore the
legal option by seeking redress in a court of law.
While we are not yet certain about the person(s) who
instigated Emenike’s arrest, it is on record that the Abia State born
blogger has been constantly harassed by the agents and officials of the
Abia State Government over his publications. It is also on record that
some government officials in Akwa Ibom State have been uncomfortable
with some of his publications online.
We hereby call on the SSS to release Mr. Iroegbu Emenike immediately. Injury to one, is injury to all.
Inibehe Effiong, ESQ.
Convener, Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COHRD).