Group To Army: Release Journalist Segun Olatunji

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Prominent civil rights advocacy group: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has demanded that the Chief of Defence Staff General Christopher Gwabin Musa or the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja should release forthwith or state publicly why the respected editor of FirstNews online newspaper Mr. Segun Olatunji was abducted by armed goons allegedly decked in Army uniforms.
HURIWA is worried that once again, Nigeria has returned to the dreaded days of General Sani Abacha type of media repression and the abductions of media practitioners just as the Rights group carpeted political office holders at the highest levels of government in Nigeria currently of displaying total aversion to media freedoms and are in mortal apprehension of the populace coming up to demand for accountability from them. HURIWA has asked the minister of information and national orientation Alhaji Mohammed Idriss to speak, work vigorously to get public office holders to operate by the principles of rule of law and to obey the provisions of chapter 4 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which encompassed sections obliging the government to enforce the fundamental media and information freedoms. “The current information minister unlike his predecessor who is not a professional journalist, is a member of the Nigerian media and indeed one of the most reputable media owners. He should and must defend media freedoms and the right of the media practitioners to practice their profession in line with the provisions of the Constitution and to uphold the obligations of public office holders to uphold the principle of accountability because the media as the fourth estate of the realm is the conscience of the nation and should be allowed to play these roles stipulated by Section 22 of the Nigerian constitution.”
HURIWA described the circumstances surrounding the surreptitious kidnapping of a reputable journalist in the person of the editor of the FirstNews online newspaper Segun Olatunji when it is obvious that the gentleman is one of the finest of the journalism profession who is very observant of the ethics of the journalism profession and has been known both in Abuja and Kaduna to have showed greater passion for objective, balanced and standard ethical journalism devoid of hearsay, innuendos or rumours.
HURIWA is therefore calling on the Chief of Defence Staff General Christopher Gwabin Musa and the chief of Army Staff to immediately order the investigation of the circumstances that led soldiers to allegedly kidnap a media practitioner without even informing his wife or granting him the fair hearing of extending a lawful invitation to any office that he has now being driven to secretly. HURIWA condemned the secrecy surrounding the seeming abduction of this journalist and we hope that this must never happen again or be mainstreamed as a regular practice.
HURIWA stated that gunmen suspected to be soldiers had reportedly abducted the editor of FirstNews newspaper, Segun Olatunji, from his home in Lagos State.
Olatunji, a former Kaduna State correspondent of The PUNCH, was reportedly kidnapped on Friday by gunmen from his home in the Iyana Odo, Abule Egba area of the state.
In a statement on Saturday, the management of the online newspaper linked the action to a recent story published by FirstNews titled, “Revealed: “Defence Chief running office like family business – Public Interest Lawyers”, published by many other online platforms.
The management also linked his abduction to another report titled, “EXCLUSIVE: How contractor, company stole N100bn, laundered funds for top govt officials – Investigation”, which was later pulled down.
The incident has caused panic among the members of staff of the newspaper, the management said.
Olatunji’s wife was quoted as saying that the armed men numbering 10 arrived at their residence, a few minutes after 6 pm, and whisked her husband away.
HURIWA through the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko said it is a constitutional aberration for media practitioners to be kidnapped for only doing their legitimate duties.

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