DSS Continuous Detention of Delta Journalist:Buhari Group Urges Lai Mohammed to Intervene
LAGOS JANUARY 4TH (URHOBOTODAY)-A passionate appeal has been made to the Honourable Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to urgently intervene and influence the release of the Publisher of Ughelli Times Magazine, Prince Daniel Ekiugbo who was whisked away from his private residence on October 25, 2016 by a crack team of men of the Directorate of State Security Service (DSS).
The appeal contained in a statement by the Directorate of Media and Publicity of Grassroots Mobilizers for Buhari (GMB) in South-South Nigeria and released by its Director, Barrister Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe said while the DSS is saddled with the responsibility of cracking down on criminal elements perceived to threaten the unity and peace of the nation, the discharge of its functions must be swift and time conscious so as not to infringe on the fundamental rights of citizens under investigation by the service.
Oghenesivbe who is also the convener of Rescue Delta Media Group (RDMG) of Delta APC, further asserted that Prince Ekiugbo was alleged to have published certain offensive and libelous articles tending to paint the character of the Hon. Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachukwu in a bad light as reported by SaraReporters hence the suspect was arrested for questioning nearly three months ago (90 days and still counting).
The story, according to Oghenesivbe took a different twist when the Delta State Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), intervened prompting a protest visit of about 50 practising journalists led by its amiable Chairman, Comrade Nobert Chiazor to the Asaba office of the DSS where they were reliably informed that the Publisher of Ughelli Times Magazine, Prince Daniel Ekiugbo also got his fingers soiled in other criminal activities linking him to certain criminal elements involved in militancy and pipeline vandalization in the Niger Delta.
The Buhari group South-South Media Director opined that it is the law that certain offences against the Nigerian nation are not bail able, but that the order for continuous detention must be issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.
They added that in the instant case of Prince Ekiugbo, the DSS has not been able to bring charges against their suspect to enable the Court examine the basic ingredients of the alleged offences so as to determine whether or not Prince Ekiugbo deserves bail.
In the light of the above, the group is not comfortable with the continous detention of a citizen protected by Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and in the same token urged the high command of the DSS to urgently do the needful to protect and advance the principles of rule of law, natural justice and good conscience.
Oghenesivbe and his group are demanding for either the unconditional release of Prince Ekiugbo since no charges have been pressed against him or in the alternative charge him to a court of competent jurisdiction where his alleged offences can be viewed with the eyes of the law to determine his freedom or otherwise.
The APC group is of the opinion that petty political squabbles within APC Delta family must not be overstretched so as not to delay the genuine reconciliation among vexed stakeholders in timely preparation for greater tasks ahead including the take over of Delta by the ruling party in 2019; as reflected in the New Year message of the State Party Leader, Olorogun Otega Emerhor who declared 2017 as a year of Hope, Unity and Growth.
We therefore call on the Honourable Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the National President of the NUJ as well as the Director-General of the DSS to review Prince Ekiugbo’s case and ensure that the rule of law prevails to stop the continued infringement on Ekiugbo’s fundamental rights to liberty, fair hearing and freedom of speech, the statement added.