The management of Daybreak Nigeria hereby draws the attention of members of the public, media stakeholders, lovers of democracy and free press to the unlawful arrest and incarceration of our staff, Mr Gabriel Idibiaby the police in Kaduna over a factual and investigative report published in the Daybreak Nigeria newspaper which the authorities are yet to disprove.
Gabriel Idibia according to a release signed by Dr Austin Maho publisher of the Daybreak was first detained on the 26th October 2023, and was subsequently released on bail and asked to report back on the 9th November 2023, when he was rearrested.
The police evidently on the prompting of powers above, against all known ethics of the profession wanted him to disclose the sources of his information. He rightfully declined and was summarily arraigned before magistrate court 2 Daura Road, in Magajin Gari area of Kaduna town, and sent to prison where he spent two days because he could not meet the unusually stringent bail conditions set for him.
The matter has been rescheduled for 28th November for mentioning.
Daybreak management condemns his harassment and unlawful arrest. Journalism is not a crime. Journalists by virtue of section 22 of the 1999 Constitution as amended are empowered to hold government accountable to the public. This constitutional provision is at the heart of our democracy and the reason why journalists needs protection in the performance of their constitutionally empowered function at all times.
It is unfortunate that dissenting voices would resort to jack boot tactics and intimidation when there are laid down processes in dealing with what ordinarily is a civil matter.
It is further unfortunate that institutions of state funded with tax payers money like the police would allow itself to be used against a citizen and a journalist in the lawful discharge of his constitutional function.
If democracy fails, we all perish, if political leaders and those occupying public office can no longer be held to account, it would be the end of democracy and enthronement of tyranny and totalitarianism in Nigeria.
It was Thomas Jefferson, a former President of the United States who famously in 1786 said “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter”
This underscores the importance of a free press to keep government and those holding public office in check. The media provides the avenue through which those holding positions of trust are held accountable to the people.
The incarceration of Gabriel Idibia in the course of his job, is a gross abuse of his rights, criminalisation of journalism and a violation of the public’s right to know.
Since he started working with Daybreak Nigeria, Gabriel Idibia is the most resourceful investigative journalist in our team. All his reports have followed laid down ethical considerations based on facts, objectivity, fairness and accuracy.
His arrest and detention is anti-democratic and an affront on press freedom and those responsible for this conspiracy against our staff should be called out for trying to nuzzle the free press.
The police and others who have allowed themselves to be used in this case must know that press freedom is one of the building blocks of every democratic society, without it, we will drift into anarchy and dictatorship. Journalists must be allowed to do their jobs without being hounded and intimidated.
Journalism is not a crime according to the media outfit Gabriel Idibia has committed no crime.
We call on the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, Civil Society Organisations, media rights groups and other stakeholders to prevail on the police to allow Gabriel Idibia the air of liberty to perform his lawful duties without hindrance and all obnoxious charges against him dropped immediately.
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