Reps condemn unlawful frequent arrest, detention of journalists

  • The House urged the Nigerian Police Force and other law enforcement agencies to rely on Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act 2015 as amended

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives condemned the frequent arrest and detention of journalists in Nigeria while performing their duties.

The motion, titled “Need to Curtail the Incessant and Unlawful Arrest and Detention of Journalists by Law Enforcement Agencies,” was sponsored by Clement Jimbo, representing Abak/Etomi Ekpon/Ika Federal Constituency, Akwa Ibom State. Jimbo highlighted the need to address this issue to protect the Fourth Estate of the Realm.

The House emphasized the importance of a free press for the growth and maintenance of democracy and warned against the harassment of journalists.

Adopting the motion, the House urged the Nigerian Police Force and other law enforcement agencies to rely on Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act 2015 as amended and to charge anyone, including journalists, to court if they have violated any laws, rather than depriving them of their constitutional rights.

Additionally, the House pledged to pass laws to strengthen press freedom protections, conduct inquiries into recent cases of journalist detention, and engage in diplomatic efforts to ensure the government respects press freedom.

Leading the debate, Jimbo said, “There has been a troubling increase in the number of journalists being unlawfully arrested, detained, and harassed for carrying out their professional duties, relying on the offence of Cyber-stalking within the Cybercrimes Act, 2015.

“In recent times, between 2015 and 2024, there has been incessant unwarranted arrest, unlawful detention and several other forms of harassment and intimidation meted out at least 25 journalists in the course of their duty, which is threatening the very fundamental pillar of democracy, and culminating into a breach of their constitutionally guaranteed rights to free speech.”

Jimbo also noted that despite the move by the Federal Government to promote freedom of speech, journalists continue to suffer untold harassment at the hands of law enforcement agencies.

“Earlier in 2024, the President signed the Amended Act with a substantial adjustment on Section 24, which listed what constitutes cyber-stalking and provided the punishment for such.

“The law enforcement agents neglected this aspect and continued their clampdown on free speech.

“Regrettably, at least 10 journalists have been arrested in the past year and 15 of them in the last regime,” he added.


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