Nigerian Journalist, Abiri, Was Detained for Daring Shell Petroleum

WEST AFRICAN REPORTERS (WAR) has uncovered the reason why Mr. Jones Abiri was arrested and detained for two years.

A document obtained by WAR shows that Abiri, who spent two years in detention without trial was accused of criminal intimidation by the State Security Service (SSS).

The SSS alleged that he sent a text message to the management of Shell Petroleum and the Nigeria Agip Oil company in Bayelsa state requesting the companies to pay N500 million and N250 million or risk being bombed.

Jones was charged to court in a Magistrate Court, the court says it has no jurisdiction to entertain the suit brought against him before it and struck out the case on that ground.

Angela Quintal, the CPJ Africa Program Coordinator, says Jones case is one that has got the capacity to deny press freedom in Nigeria, but the good thing that calls for celebration is that the court has ruled in his favour, and that strengthens press freedom not only in Nigeria but Africa, she added.

This is an opportunity for the Nigerian states, journalists and the citizens to engage the state on improving the rights and freedom of journalist working in the country, Angela disclosed.

The Federal High Court in Abuja last week ruled that the government has no legal foundation for detaining Jones for two years without trial.

Mr. Nnamdi Dimgba, the judge of the federal high court in a judgment said, there is no law that gives legal backing to the federal government to detain Abiri for two years.

The judge says government argument that Abiri was detained for national security interest was baseless, lacks any backing known to Nigeria jurisprudence.

The judge taking a swap on the government said they ought to have charged him to court if they feel he is a threat to national security. It is within the powers of the court to determine who should be granted bail, not the federal government.

The court in its verdict declared Abiri’s detention illegal and an abuse of his fundamental rights and ordered the state to pay him N10 million damages.

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