LAGOS (AFP) – Media rights groups on Tuesday condemned the detention by police of Nigerian journalists who refused to disclose their source for a disputed story about the president, as their paper alleged that two reporters were being held incommunicado.
Nigerian police on Monday detained four journalists from the independent Leadership newspaper, but two have since been released, the company’s Managing Director Azubuike Ishikwene told AFP.
“Tony Amokeodo and Chibuzor Ukaibe are being held incommunicado. We have had no access to them since they were taken in for interrogation by the police,” he said.
Those released late Monday were Chinyere Fred-Adebulugbe and Chuks Ohuegbe.
“The detention of these two journalists is unacceptable,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement on Tuesday.
“If the president feels offended by an article, he has a number of ways to respond other than launching a harassment campaign.”
On April 3, Leadership published a document it claimed was drafted in President Goodluck Jonathan’s office that calls for sabotaging an opposition coalition which has weighed fronting a unity candidate for 2015 presidential polls.
Jonathan’s spokesman swiftly dismissed the document as a forgery and police have confirmed that an investigation has been launched into the origins of the report.
According to Leadership, police demanded to know the source of the document, which the reporters refused to disclose.
The police were not immediately available to comment on Tuesday.
Media Rights Agenda, a local press freedom group, called on Nigeria “to put a leash on its rampaging law enforcement agents.”
The government “has nothing to gain but everything to lose by projecting to the international community and its citizens an image of a lawless government which muzzles the media,” the group further said.