News24

Nigeria detains 4 journos over story

2013-04-09 12:37

Abuja - Nigerian police have detained four journalists after they refused to disclose the source of an alleged presidential document that calls for sabotaging an opposition coalition, their newspaper said on Monday.

President Goodluck Jonathan's office had already denied the validity of the document published on April 3 in the independent Leadership newspaper.

The disputed and unconfirmed report claimed that Jonathan had issued orders to frustrate efforts by the opposition to unite ahead of presidential polls in 2015.

Police confirmed the arrests but declined to discuss the circumstances.

"We demand the unconditional and immediate release of our journalists," said the managing director of the Leadership Group, Azubuike Ishiekwene, in a statement.

He identified those detained as Chinyere Fred-Adebulugbe, Chuks Ohuegbe, Tony Amokeodo and Chibuzor Ukaibe.

According to the statement, the four were summoned to police headquarters in the capital on Monday and told they would be held until they identified "the source of the story," which they refused to do.

"We stand by our story and will neither be cowed nor intimidated by the strong-arm tactics of President Jonathan," the statement said.

National police spokesperson Frank Mba told AFP the journalists "are being detained in connection with the on-going investigation".

"Leadership must have told you why they are being held," he said when asked for further details.

Media rights groups including the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists have previously criticised Nigeria for alleged crackdowns on press freedoms.

In February, two journalists from the Wazobia radio station in the northern city of Kano were charged with inciting disorder after they repeated a conspiracy theory that polio vaccines were part of a Western plot to harm Muslims.