Some plain-clothes policemen on Friday arrested and whisked to Abuja a journalist based in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Jerry Edoho.
The young journalist, who is the Deputy Editor of Ibom Nation Newspaper, a local publication, was arrested by the security operatives and forcibly taken to the Federal Capital over a post he allegedly put up on his Facebook page involving Dana Air.
Edoho, had while reacting to a photograph of a purported crash involving a Dana flight heading to Lagos from Abuja in which he was tagged, sought clarification from friends on his list to confirm the authenticity of the story.
He had written, “Rumor via social media (Facebook) has it that Dana Air enroute Abj-Lag with 153 passengers crashed killing all on board. Please could someone help verify the authenticity of this shocking report? Below is (the) pix from the scene as uploaded on my wall.”
But following a petition by Dana Air to the police authorities in Abuja after the said photograph became a hot topic of discussion among a section of Facebook users; Edoho was arrested in Uyo on Friday and taken to the FCT on a Dana flight scheduled to leave by 4pm.
Human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, who confirmed the incident to Saturday PUNCH around 8pm on Friday shortly before leaving Uyo for Lagos, said he saw three plain-clothes security officers forcibly taking Edoho away while still at the Ibom International Airport, Uyo.
He said, “Jerry Edoho sighted me at the Ibom International Airport, Uyo, and alerted me that he was being taken forcibly to Abuja by a team of plain-clothes security men over a publication on Facebook.
“He told me that he was tagged in a post about the recent rumoured crash of a Dana plane, which was false. That, upon being tagged, he made a post like several other Nigerians asking whether the crash report was true. The security men were to convey him to Abuja via a Dana flight that was scheduled to depart by 4pm.
“The security men confronted me for speaking with him ‘without their permission.’ I retorted that Mr. Edoho is a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that his right to freedom of expression cannot be taken away. This resulted in an altercation between me and the security men whose identity I cannot immediately ascertain. I understand that his arrest followed a petition by Dana Air to the Nigeria Police Force.
“I am using this platform to urge both the police and the management of Dana Air to respect the fundamental rights of Mr. Edoho. He should be released on bail pending the conclusion of investigation into whatever allegations that have been made against him. This is a democracy, not a dictatorship.”
When contacted, Spokesperson for Dana Air, Mr. Kingsley Ezenwa, said he wasn’t aware of the issue but that he would get back to our correspondent as soon as he was able to confirm the matter. His response was still being expected as of the time the paper went to press.