- The presidency says investigation shows Jones Abiri is not a journalist as he claims
- Garba Shehu reveals that Abiri was arrested for pipeline vandalism and militant activities
- The presidential spokesperson says the Buhari administration will continue to maintain its integrity
The presidency has reacted to the continued detention without trial of Jones Abiri, an alleged journalist, arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS). He was said to have been nabbed for militant activities.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the presidency denied that Abiri is a journalist as he had paraded himself.
Malam Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity clarified in the night of Thursday, June 21, that the suspect does not belong to any chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists.
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NAIJ.com learnt that Shehu said Abiri was arrested for pipeline vandalism and crude theft, including militant activities in the Niger Delta.
Shehu gave details of the development while reacting to a statement at the World Congress of International Press Institute in Abuja that a journalist, known as Jones Abiri, was arrested in the course of his work.
“On the issue of the arrest and continued detention of Jones Abiri, who allegedly parades himself as a journalist, by the Department of State Services (DSS), it is instructive to note that the accused is a guest of the security agency because of his alleged involvement in militant and criminal activities.
“Admittedly, the issue of Abiri had been brought to the attention of the presidency by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
“As a true believer in the rule of law and the integral role of the media in a democracy, the presidency did interface with the security agency involved in the matter and our findings confirmed that the suspect is in custody because of alleged involvement in pipeline vandalism and theft.
“Abiri is not a registered journalist with any of the media professional bodies in the country,” he said.
According to the report, Shehu further stated that there was no evidence to show that Abiri belonged to any chapel or membership of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) or payment of the union’s check-off dues.
“Abiri’s stock-in-trade and notoriety in the liberalised Nigeria media industry include fronting as a spokesman for militants engaged in economic sabotage in the Niger Delta region,’’ he added.
The spokesperson said President Buhari is resolutely committed to the freedom of the press and his administration will ensure that media personnel in the country discharge their duties without any hindrance.
He frowned at individuals or groups insinuating that President Buhari was in support of restrictions on freedom of expression and the media.
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“It is therefore very uncharitable for anyone or group to suggest otherwise or infer that the President is in support of restrictions on freedom of expression and the media,” he said maintaining that the Buhari administration would continue to promote the freedom and safety of journalists.
He further promised that the administration would not do anything to damage the credibility it had demonstrated in promoting press freedom since coming into power in May 2015.
NAIJ.com earlier reported that a suspected drug baron and a leader of an armed robbery gang identified as Henry Samuel was arrested by officials of the police command in Bayelsa state, the Punch reports.
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