Pro-democracy and rights group, Concerned Nigerians, has condemned the harassment of journalist, Mr Yahaya Usman, by the Niger State Government over a published report on his blog and social media pages.
The group in a statement said the current trend of harassing and arresting journalists suggested that state governments in Nigeria were trying to silence critical voices by waging a silent war against journalists on trumped up charges for their reporting regarding the activities of government.
Chief of Staff to the governor of Niger State had in a petition to the police, alleged that Usman posted official secrets on his social media platforms.
The Chief of Staff further asked the police to investigate Usman’s ‘source’ of such classified document.
The journalist was detained on Friday night and the police are pressuring him to disclose the source of his information.
Deji Adeyanju, the group’s Convener, condemned the harassment of the journalist, calling for his immediate release.
He said, “We condemn the incessant harassment and unlawful arrest of journalists and dissenting voices in Nigeria. These acts are a violation of the public’s right to know.”
Adeyanju further stated that Usman was one of the best, ethical and professional journalists in Nigeria and his harassment and arrest was anti-democratic and an affront on press freedom.
He said, “We are concerned that the authorities will write a petition to the police, calling for the investigation of a journalist’s source carrying out his duty as an independent journalist.
“The authorities at all levels must know that press freedom is one of the building blocks of every democratic society. Without it, we’re not the same country. Nigerians, regardless of their political beliefs, have the right to do their job without being hounded.”
Usman was arrested for revealing that the Niger State Government in April this year borrowed N3.5bn short term loan from Zenith Bank to cover the shortfall in inflows from the Federation Account Allocation Committee.