The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) on Thursday condemned the arrest and detention of the Editor of News Digest, Mr. Gidado Yushau Shuaib and the professional webmaster for News Digest, Mr. Adebowale Adekoya over an investigative report published through their medium last year.
The report revealing unchecked and unsanctioned use of Indian Hemp by the workers of Hillcrest Agro-Allied Industry in Ilorin throughout in loading and offloading processes of grains.
CISLAC Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) lamented this in a statement forwarded to Solacebase on Thursday.
The statement read, ’while we are concerned by the recent but alarming arrest and detention of journalists as expressed in the Amnesty International’s report on calling for concern on “Endangered Voices and Attack on Freedom of Expression in Nigeria calls[…]”, we observe the deliberately unabated restrictions against Freedom of Expression as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as a major setback to the nation’s democratic core values and respect before the international community.’
The statement maintains and reiterates CISLAC undaunted position for social justice and press freedom while calling on relevant authorities to secure citizens’ rights at all levels.
It recalled that Mr. Shuaib, who is also the anchor of Youth Digest, has been in the forefront of training young investigative journalists on accountability in the public sector, as demonstrated in “Campus Investigative Journalists Workshop” where campus students were trained on effective reportage, recently organized by CISLAC in collaboration with Youth Digest.
This is in addition to the Campus Journalism Awards, where best performing Campus Journalists were rewarded and encouraged in January 2019.
‘’We are not unaware of the media role in influencing public opinion, shaping political agenda, providing a link between the government and the people, while acting as the government’s watchdog in advancing good governance, ’said the statement.
‘’We also recall the crucial importance of the media in the promotion of democracy and rule of law; just as media is indispensable for people to be informed and to effectively participate in a democracy.’’
‘’It is on this premise that CISLAC will continue to support young investigative journalists to pursue various legal means to expose corruption and illegalities in our society, as this forms the basis of good governance, transparency and accountability that CISLAC advocates and upholds.’’
The statement appealed to the law enforcement agencies and the Government of Nigeria to restrain from arbitrary arrests of journalists, who expose malpractices and criminal acts.
The perpetrators of corruption and other heinous crimes are the true enemies of the state who drag Nigeria into the abyss. Investigative journalists are patriots who should be celebrated, not arrested on fabricated charges and physically abused.
It called for the unconditional release of Mr. Gidado Yushau Shuaib and Mr. Adebowale Adekoya and restrain from military dictatorship-like practices.