NPAN, NGE, NUJ Slam FG 14-Day Ultimatum To Compensate Abducted FirstNews Editor

In a united front, the Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), and the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), alongside other media industry stakeholders, have fiercely demanded a thorough investigation into the abduction of FirstNews editor, Segun Olatunji, by the military.

They have also threatened to pursue all available avenues to seek justice and accountability at both national and international levels should the government fails  to address the  demands within 14 days.

 Olatunji’s ordeal began on March 15, 2024, when he was forcefully taken from his Lagos home in Abule Egba by armed men clad in military attire. 

He was then transported to Abuja where he endured two weeks of harrowing captivity under inhumane conditions at the hands of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Upon his release, Olatunji recounted the horrors he faced, including being handcuffed, blindfolded, and subjected to brutal treatment during his interrogation. 

The involvement of high-ranking military officials, including Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Undiandeye and Gen. Christopher Musa, has brought the spotlight onto the military’s role in the incident.

In a joint statement signed by NPAN President Kabiru Yusuf, NGE President Eze Anaba, and NUJ President Chris Isiguzo, among others, the media stakeholders demanded swift and transparent action, including the prosecution of all individuals involved in Olatunji’s abduction and torture.

The statement further called upon the Federal Government to provide compensation to Olatunji in accordance with constitutional provisions and to ensure the protection of journalists’ rights and freedoms.

They condemned the fact that Olatunji was stripped to his boxers, legs manacled, hands in cuffs, kept incommunicado and not informed of his offence or the reason for his arrest nor of his rights as required by law before he was released on March 29, 2024.

“He was repeatedly interrogated about stories published by FirstNews in the absence of a legal practitioner of his choice because he was not given the opportunity to consult a lawyer. His mobile phone was also unlawfully searched in an effort by his abductors to ascertain the sources of the stories published by the news outlet,” the statement added.

They said, “In accordance with Section 35(6) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the Federal Government should pay Mr. Olatunji substantial compensation and issue a public apology to him for the unlawful and unconstitutional violation of his rights as well as the inhuman and degrading treatment to which he was subjected;

“The Federal Government should make an unequivocal public commitment to respect and defend the rights and freedoms of journalists and other media practitioners to carry out their professional duties in a safe and conducive environment in accordance with Sections 22 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and advise all law enforcement, security, intelligence, military and other agencies accordingly.”

The stakeholders, therefore, “advised any member of the public, dissatisfied or feel the content in a news medium directly affects or involves him or her unfairly, to approach the National Media Complaints  Commission (The National Media Ombudsman) for redress, rather than engage in self-help.”

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