It is no longer news that members of the press recently in Nigeria have come under sustained attacks by security agencies on trumped up charges, most prominent of which is the state-sponsored persecution of Agba Jalingo in Calabar, Cross River State.
What is however news is the recent entry of Mr Gidado Yushau Shuaib the editor of the News Digest and Youths Digest which are subsidiaries of another reputable media house PRNigeria, into the growing list of journalist facing one form of persecution or the other, the travails of Mr Gidado actually started five days after the arrest of News Digest’s professional webmaster Adebowale Adekoya in Lagos.
The security agents who arrested Mr Gidado in a gestapo like manner stormed his Abuja residence and whisked him away to Wuye Police Station in the FCT like a common criminal. They subjected members of his family, friends, colleagues and associates and indeed the entire campus journalism community to psychological trauma.
While I totally condemn this naked use and abuse of power and privilege by security agents. I want to congratulate Mr Gidado Shuaib on his induction into the hall of fame of persecution which is usually the status that most successful journalist in Nigeria have attained since the days of the military with the likes of Dele Giwa paying the supreme price.
Mr Gidado a prominent media entrepreneur’s only sin is the investigative report his online medium ran which exposed the rot going on in an agricultural firm with links to a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mrs Sarah alade, which goes by the name Hillcrest agro allied industries based in illorin. The report titled, ‘Inside Kwara factory where Indian hemp smoking is legalised.’
Published sometime in May 2018, it highlighted how the act of smoking Indian hemp was allowed within the vicinity of the factory in the entire loading and offloading of grains, thereby bringing to question the ethical standards of the factory.
However, the good news is that the online paper’s editor has been released on bail with a caveat that he should report by Monday November 4, 2019 along with Mr. Olufemi Alfred who is the author of the report for further questioning.
It might interest Nigerians to know that Mr Alfred is an award winning campus journalist who has won awards back to back at the annual campus journalism awards which usually holds in Abuja.
This to me is the height of high handedness, oppression and suppression as well as a desperate attempt to stifle press freedom in Nigeria by overzealous security agents whose main and primary duty is the protection of life and property but have abandoned that sacred responsibility for vendetta.
This latest act is part of a grand agenda to intimidate and coerce into silence, the ever vibrant and growing generation of Nigerian students in tertiary institutions who have decided and agreed to toe the line of campus journalism rather than celebrating them for there exploits in exposing corrupt and nefarious acts.
I hereby use this opportunity to call on members of both military and para-military to refrain from persecuting individuals particularly members of the pen profession on trumped up charges for no justifiable cause. Because our lives do not matter the day we become silent on issues that affect us as a people.
• Gaddafi Ibrahim Tanko, was a finalist at the 2019 campus journalism awards(CJA).