Nigeria’s media bodies refer case of abduction of journalist, segun olatunji to Ombudsman

The Media bodies in Nigeria on Monday referred the case of Editor of FirstNews newspapers Segun Olatunji who was abducted by the military in March from his private residence in Lagos to Nigeria’s National Media Ombudsman for resolution.

Penpushing reports that the bodies include: Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO) the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) and civil society partners with assurance to make the report of the Ombudsman’s investigation on the case of the abduction of the journalist public

The statement by the bodies explained that they took the new approach of referring the matter to the Ombudsman after meeting with the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), whose operatives arrested and detained Olatunji for two weeks.

‘The report of the Ombudsman process would be made public. We hope that the parties concerned will seize this opportunity to settle the matter in the interest of law, order and respect for the provisions of Nigeria’s constitution’, the statement reads

Penpushing further reports that the nine bodies explained that Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) requested a meeting with them on April 14, 2024, in the wake of the ultimatum they issued over the matter.

The media bodies having detailed various forms of rights violations and dehumanisation Olatunji went through at the hands of military personnel during his 14-day detention, demanded the prosecution of the perpetrators as well as compensation and a public apology to the journalist

Penpushing also reports that in addition the bodies called for full accountability for all the perpetrators within and outside the military, just as it stated that the military claimed ignorance of existence of National Media Ombudsman

‘The military authorities said they acted to forestall a potential threat to national security and would have reported the matter to the National Media Complaints Commission (NMCC) – The National Media Ombudsman – if they had been aware of its existence’, the statement said.

“After considering this disposition towards the Ombudsman, the NPO, BON and the Civil Society Partners have decided after reviewing the outcome of the 14 April meeting, to refer the matter to the Ombudsman for adjudication,” the statement added.

‘Besides, the specific issue of Mr Olatunji, the group condemns the increasing militarisation of the civic space, which has seen increasing use of excessive force by soldiers in matters that would have ordinarily been handled by the police,” the statement stated.

Penpushing reports that signatories to the document include the President, Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN)/President, Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO), Kabiru A. Yusuf, Executive Secretary, Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), Dr Yemisi Bamgbose; President, Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Eze Anaba; National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo; and President, Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP), Maureen Chigbo.

The others are President, International Press Institute, Nigeria Chapter (IPI Nigeria), Musikilu Mojeed; Executive Director, Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Edetaen Ojo; Executive Director, International Press Centre (IPC), Lanre Arogundade, and Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Adetokunbo Mumuni.

Penpushing further reports that it I recalled that Nigerian media and civil society organisations on April 8, 2024 after release of Olatunji on March 28,2024 issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Nigerian government to investigate the abduction, brutalisation and torture of Olatunji by the military

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