Group writes CPJ over DSS detention of Bayelsa Local Publisher
A Community advocacy group, in Bayelsa Ondewari Health, Education and Environmental Project (OHEEP) has condemned continued detention of Publisher of a community-based newspaper.
OHEEP sent a petition to the Committee for Protection of Journalists (CPJ) over alleged arrest and continued detention of Chief Jones Abiri, publisher, Weekly Source, by Department of State Security (DSS) in 2016.
Abiri, who is also Journalist and a student of Law, was arrested on July 21, 2016 at his Yenagoa office and detained in the DSS custody for alleged involvement in militancy.
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) had also called for his release or immediate commencement of his trial, without response from DSS.
The OHEEP’s petition was signed by no fewer than 17 members of the Odenwari Community led by the Project Officer and Project Director, Mr Tontiemote Yeiyei and Mr Alagoa Morris.
The group noted that Abiri was their kinsman and that no member of his immediate or extended family was aware of his whereabouts.
The group said: “it is doubtful whether he is still alive, in good health or not’’.
“Family members and concerned indigenes of the community are traumatised as Abiri’s condition and whereabouts remained unknown.
“This is especially as he was never known to have been associated with criminals or known as violent persons or of criminal disposition.
“The appeal by OHEEP and some concerned indigenes of Odenwari is predicated on the fact that Abiri has not been known or identified as criminal or violent fellow community folk.
“In view of that premise and as law-abiding citizens, we are embolden by the 1999 Constitutional provision of the fundamental Human Rights of every citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“They include other international and continental instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Right.
“We request that Abiri be treated in accordance with the provisions of the law; if he has committed any crime against the Federal Government of Nigeria, we demand due process be followed in prosecuting him.
“It is in the interest of the community and above premise that we, whose signatures and thumb prints appear here are soliciting for assistance from our esteemed organisation.
“Also by extension, other Human Rights Organisations should take up this matter with the relevant authorities in Nigeria.
“We, the undersigned, believes that the innocent shouldn’t suffer and that even alleged offenders should not be denied constitutional protection of fair hearing before courts of competent jurisdiction,’’ the petitioners said. ##