The Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) in Akwa Ibom State understands the brewing feud between Mr. Iniobong Ekong, a retired captain of the Nigerian Army who also doubles as the Personal Assistant to Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State on Security and Mr. Ifreke Nseowo, the country’s youngest editor and Managing Editor of Community Pulse newspaper, a state-based tabloid readily throws its full weight behind Mr. Nseowo, in view of the security implications of unfolding events.
It is sad to note that abuse of Journalists rights and the shameless efforts to stifle free speech and the constitutionally guaranteed right of individuals is not new in Akwa Ibom State, the renewed onslaught which has come in different texture is irritatively alarming.
When civil government officials choose to use the powers incidental to their offices in pursuing aimless objectives against assumed “vulnerable” members of the public who are busy doing their legitimate jobs, it puts logic upside-down.
While commending Mr. Ekong for being civil enough to approach the court to seek redress over what he described as a “libelous publication” by slamming a N500 million suit against Mr. Nseowo who is presumably in his early twenty, we concede it to him that it his right to seek redress.
It will also afford the critical masses of the Nigerian people to raise certain questions and demand interrogatories using extant laws in Nigeria and international treaties that have persuasive effects to cause full disclosures on matters that have never been considered important in Akwa Ibom in particular, and Nigeria in general. We will not comment on the case in court, to avoid subjudice.
Our interest in the feud is with respect to the persistent threat to the life of the young editor in question, who is quoted to have stated that very strange fellows follow him, and appear to wait for the opportunity to stalk him.
We want to sound it out that, anyone who is planning anything untoward, should please advise himself against it. It is clear where the blames would go to. The facts will indeed speak for themselves.
As a rights group, we fear for his life, and will mobilize locally, nationally and internationally; to ensure that people do not use their offices to bully peace-loving citizens of the State and the country.
Documentation on threats to free-speech and the constant harassment of the media in Akwa Ibom State would be release by 2014; to catalogue the horrible experiences of the media.
The ordeals, travails, seizure of newspapers, disruption of production processes and constant attacks on the media will be well documented for the whole world to see what has been happening in Akwa Ibom.
Part of the interrogatories and further enquiries using every tool the law has availed us will include the following:
i. Which individual owns building housing Least Pay and the Play Terrace Club?
ii. What is the legitimate and taxed income of the owner of the building with evidence from the tax authorities that the money used in constructing the building and running businesses therein passed through the routine tax scrutiny of tax authorities in this country?
iii. What is the average income of the owner over time?
iv. Who owns the Play Terrace Club, and what usually happens there, bearing in mind that some agencies of government and witnesses might be required to further give information that will help these enquiries?
More questions would be asked to aid full disclosures of certain facts of profound value. Our involvement here will follow strictly, the rules of engagement; bearing in mind the rights and obligations of all parties.
CLO, Akwa Ibom Branch