Police Harassment: Rights Group Raises Alarm, Alleges Plot To Arrest 3 Enugu Journalists
Touched by a perceived plan to gag the press and stop the free flow of information in Enugu state, the Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN) has petitioned the Inspector General of Police to rise to the occasion and stop the anomaly.
The rights group while writing on the lingering crisis at the Federal Neoropsychiatric Hospital (FNH) Enugu that has culminated in the closure of the school’s Mental Health Nursing at the instance of the Medical Director, Dr. Monday Nwite Igwe, called on the IGP not to allow the police to be used to harass and bully journalists from performing their lawful duties.
The petition, which was signed by President of CRRAN, Barr. Olu Omotayo, alleged that three journalists and a human rights activist were summoned to the police headquarters in Abuja, allegedly orchestrated by the MD of the hospital, Dr. Igwe.
Omotayo urged the IGP to wade into the matter to avoid the police being used as lap dogs to hush journalists in Enugu and elsewhere in Nigeria.
The petition reads thus: “It is no longer news that School of Mental Health Nursing, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Enugu was unlawfully closed down by its Medical Director, Dr. Monday Nwite Igwe, but the new development that calls for concern is the recent action of the said Dr. Monday Nwitte Igwe who is now using the instrumentality of the Police to launch a massive attack on the Freedom of the Press in the state.
“Some of the journalists who reported in the media the unlawful closure of the School of Mental Health Nursing, Enugu, Dr. Monday Nwite Igwe, and the corruption at the institution have been penciled down to be sent to prison courtesy of a police invitation letter sent to the them in respect of criminal allegation made against them by Dr. Monday Nwite Igwe.
The Police Invitation titled: Re: Criminal Conspiracy, Cyberstalking, Injurious Falsehood, Conduct Likely to Cause Breach of Public Peace and Criminal Defamation with Intent to Incite.”
The said Invitation signed by the A.A. Elleman DCP, Head IGP Monitoring Unit, The Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, Abuja, invited these journalists:
1. Ignatius Okpara of The African Examiner
2. Petrus Obi, former National Vice Chairman(Southeast) Nigeria Union of Journlists of the EverydayNewsNgr.
3. Clinton C. Umeh, of Journalists101
4, And Comrade Igboke Onyebuchi, of the Coalition of Civil Society Organisation who wrote petitions to appropriate government authorities to look into the plight of the over 700, students of the School of Mental Health Nursing, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Enugu.
It should be noted that the school is still closed down till date despite a reported directive by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health to reopen the institution.
“This matter becomes so painful because the person involved is a civil servant in the employ of the Federal Civil Service of the Federation. So if a journalist writes on the anomalies which occurred in an institution why should that warrant calling for the head of such journalist.
“We condemn in all ramifications the attempt to infringe on the freedom of the press in Enugu in particular and the Southeast in general,” the petitioner stated.