By Friday Idachaba
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kogi council on Monday directed journalists in the state to boycott government activities to protest the unlawful arrest of one of its members, Mr Friday Ogungbemi.
The directive was contained in a communiqué issued in Lokoja after an emergency congress meeting following failure of all entreaties to the state government and Department of the State Services (DSS) to secure the release of Ogungbemi.
The Communiqué said that Ogungbemi, a publisher, was arrested by agents of the (DSS) on Wednesday night over alleged offensive publication in the November 23 – December 15, 2016 edition of the Policy and Lawmakers magazine.
“In view of the gross abuse of office by the DSS, probably acting on the directive of some highly placed groups or individuals, journalists should indefinitely boycott the coverage of all government activities in the state”, the union directed.
According to the communiqué, the union views the detention of the journalist who was arrested on November 30, at his residence in Lokoja as an affront on the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the 1948 United Nations Human Rights Charter.
“The NUJ noted with dismay, the ordeal of the publisher as well as the psychological trauma being experienced by his family.
“The state council of the NUJ, having exhausted all avenues to secure the release of Mr Friday Ogungbemi, calls on the DSS, Kogi State, to secure his release without further delay as his arrest amounts to abuse of his fundamental Human Rights.
The NUJ, the communiqué said, considered the action of the law enforcement agency as an attempt to thwart the efforts of the media in the state and as well, muzzle the press from performing its function as watchdog of the society.
It noted that aggrieved persons had options available to them to explore rather than resort to illegal arrests and unwarranted detention of journalists using state security apparatus.
The congress also directed that a legal action be taken against the DSS with a view to enforcing the fundamental rights of the incarcerated journalist and as well, claim damages for his unlawful arrest and detention.