JONATHAN ORDERS RELEASE OF THE NATION'S EDITOR
Managing Editor, (Northern Operations) of The Nation Newspapers, Alhaji Yusuf Alli was yesterday released from police custody on the orders of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Ali was arrested alongside six other top journalists in the newspaper organisation who had been in the custody of officials at the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Area 10, Abuja since Tuesday. Alli regained his freedom after he was granted bail by the Police.
Daily Sun learnt that after another round of interrogation at the Force headquarters, Area 11, yesterday, the Inspector-General of Police, Hafiz Ringim, ordered his men to release the journalist.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke was sighted at the police headquarters to convey the message of President Goodluck Jonathan to the IG that government was no longer interested in the prosecution of the journalist.
Expressing his satisfaction over the development, National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mohammed Garuba thanked well-meaning Nigerians who expressed their solidarity with Nigerian journalists and sent in goodwill messages.
'I must say that we are indeed very, very happy that our brother has been released and from the information we have, the intervention of Mr.President was responsible for his release. This is a clear indication that Jonathan administration believes in due process and I want to believe that we are also gradually addressing the issue of press freedom.
He spoke further: 'I am happy that due process has been followed, our thinking this morning is that our brother should be arraigned before the court and we are happy our lawyers are also on ground, but the fact that the IGP and the Attorney-General of the Federation intervened immediately and the issue resolved amicably, I think, it is a very good development.
'So, I must commend Mr. President and all those who had intervened, especially members of the National Assembly, Senator Smart Adeyemi in particular, who was there and other senators and members of the House of Representatives who also showed interest, the Guild of Editors and other stakeholders.'
'I think this is an indication that the press is very united. It is an indication that people really appreciate our efforts in supporting government to ensure that we better the lives of Nigerians. So, I want to ask the media not to feel bitter about the action, rather we should consider it as part of the hazards of the profession and it should encourage us in discharging our social responsibility as enshrined by law and as expected from us by the people.'
Earlier, the IG said that he ordered the arrest of the editors of the newspapers house based on complaints by an aggrieved individual.
Ringim did not however, name the aggrieved individual, but said in an online statement signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Olusola Amore, that investigation was in progress.
He said clarification of the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the journalists was necessitated by perceived public interest in the matter.
The statement reads: 'The attention of the Inspector-General of Police Hafiz A. Ringim, NPM, mni has been drawn to the case of criminal complaint instituted by an individual against members of a Nigerian daily newspaper.
'The IGP wishes to state clearly that the complaint emanates from an aggrieved individual who under the Nigerian Constitution has a right to lay complaint to the Nigeria Police.
'In the process of this criminal investigation, seven (7) members of the daily newspaper complained against were arrested and interrogated. However one of the arrested staff found to be at the centre of the complaint is still assisting the Police in their investigations, while the remaining six (6) have been released.
Due to the perceived public interest in the matter, members of the public will be briefed from time to time on this criminal investigation'.
Meanwhile, more condemnations have continued to trail the arrest of the newsmen with Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State describing the incident as uncalled for and a recourse to the rule-of-might. The Governor, in a statement issued yestyerday by his Special Adviser on Media, Dr. Festus Adedayo stated: 'The arrest and detention of The Nation editors should be condemned in all its ramifications.It is nothing but a sad reminder of the inglorious military era when the freedom of the press was trampled upon with impunity.
'Incidentally, we are in a civilian administration where constitutionalism and the rule of law should prevail in all our dealings, particularly government's disposition towards the media. This development is an open exhibition of official disdain for the press and an attempt to play God,'' he said.
He called for caution on the part of the law enforcement agencies so that the nation would not be perceived in the comity of nations as one that had disdain for law and order. It would be recalled that police authority in Abuja and Lagos swooped on The Nation newspapers on Tuesday over a report, in which the paper alleged that former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo wrote a letter, asking for the removal of certain heads of federal agencies.
While Chief Obasanjo denied the report, the newspaper later published the purported letter he wrote to President Jonathan.