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Police Detain Four Leadership Newspaper Journalists Over Story

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SAN FRANCISCO, April 08, (THEWILL) - The police force in Abuja Monday detained four journalists in the employment of national daily newspaper, Leadership, who were invited for questioning following a news story published by the newspaper.

The journalists were detained following their refusal to disclose the source of the information contained in the report.

The journalists are Mrs. Chinyere Fred-Adebulugbe, Tony Amokeodo, Chibuzor Ukaibe and Chuks Ohuegbe.

The news story published on April 03, 2013, was titled: "Outrage Trail Presidential Directive on Tinubu, APC", with a sub-title captioned: “Bromide of the Presidential Directive.”

The police investigation into the news report followed the Presidency’s claim that the document referenced in the story was forged.

However in a statement late Monday following the detention of the journalists, the Group Managing Director, Leadership Group Limited, Azubuike Ishiekwene, said the paper was standing by its news story and insisted that it was against the ethics of journalism to disclose the source of information.

Leadership urged the police to release its personnel immediately and seek redress in court if it has issues with the news report.

Part of the statement by Azubuike reads, “The Director, Human Capital and former Leadership Sunday Editor, Mrs. Fred-Adegbulugbe, who led the journalists, said, After the journalists finished writing statements, DIG Peter Gana suddenly excused himself on a call from IGP Mohammed Abubakar.

“We were later told that we would not be allowed to leave, except we produced the source of the story. It was clear that this was not the call of the police. It is from President Goodluck Jonathan.

“We told them that it would be unethical to disclose our source and asked them to charge us to court, if they wanted.

“They said they wanted to have the document. We said the bromide had been published and wondered why they were making such a fuss, since they said the document was a work of fiction.

“They have made it clear that we would not be released, except we give them the document. We can’t get out. I was escorted to use the toilet after begging.

“This is a calculated and brazen affront on press freedom; we are bereft that a supposedly elected government will come this low.

“We demand the unconditional and immediate release of our journalists – Mrs. Chinyere Fred-Adebulugbe (Director, Human Capital); Chuks Ohuegbe (Managing Editor); Tony Amokeodo (Group News Editor); and Chibuzor Ukaibe (a Politics Reporter).

“President Jonathan and his handlers need to tell Nigerians and the civilised world why they have suddenly moved from describing the document as ‘fiction,’ to a do-or-die obsession with knowing the source; they need to tell Nigerians most of who now live in mortal fear of their personal safety and security, if clamping down on the press has now become a priority sport.

“On our part, we wish to restate our resolve to continue to hold the government to account as enshrined in Chapter 22 of the Constitution and to remain resolute in championing the course of press freedom and the right of the people to know.

“We stand by our story and will neither be cowed nor intimidated by the strong-arm tactics of President Jonathan nor by the puerile attempts by his spokesmen – Doyin Okupe and Dr. Reuben Abati – to tarnish our report.”