ARBITRARY arrest and
detention of journalists in
Kaduna State by government
and its agents may be no longer
news for those familiar with the
terrain. Journalists, particularly
members of the Correspondent
Chapel of the Nigeria Union of
Journalists, NUJ, have become
a reoccurring decimal. Since
the assumption in office of the
current APC administrationof
Governor Nasir Elrufai on
May 29, 2015, more than four
practising journalists from
different media establishments
have been arrested and detained
by security operatives.
Of those arrested, three are
still in court battling with the
case, excluding the one taken
to court on assets declaration.
Currently happening, is the
situation surrounding the
detention of the Nigerian Pilot
Bureau Chief, Gabriel Udeh,
which occurred at Sabon Tasha
Police Station on June 13-14.
The journalist was detained at
the popular Sabon Tasha Station
for a full night and 11hours.
While in detention he went
through inhuman treatment
in the hands of a male police
IPO, name withheld. For one,
it was neither in connection
with any criminality nor direct
publication in social media or
posting of hate messages, as the
case had being, but two fighting.
Although later regains his
freedom on Wednesday 14th
June 2017, through the efforts
of his colleagues, the officials of
NUJ, Kaduna State Council led
by the Secretary, Alhaji Dauda
Narrating his ordeal with
police, the journalist described
his encounter as excruciating and
a nightmare. So unimaginable
that aside introducing himself,
he promptly notified the
state Police Public Relations
Officer, PPRO, Aliyu Usman,
on phone of the detention. But
to his utmost surprise, there
was no intervention by way
of contacting the station DPO,
despite all the calls put to the
PPRO severally. Rather than
communicating with the DPO,
the PPRO was silent and never
called back to know how it all
A situation that prompted
many of his colleagues to
confide that there was an
invisible hand in the whole
scenario. Most surprising
too, is the way and manner
in which the detention order
was conducted. Although the
opponent, a female restaurant
operator, alleged bone fracture
injury due to the fracas, it
which turned out to be mere
dislocation, the cheat did not
spent a minute in the cell, on the
ground that she was beaten and
taken to hospital for treatment
of injuries sustained. Worse still
was that even when the hospital
bill was brought to him, and
was paid for, the journalist was
still not allowed to go home.
Instead, the police turned round
to demand for money for bail
from his friend that borrowed
him money to settle the hospital
bill. After he openly refused to
pay, and warned his friend to
desist from the moves to collect
N10, 000 from him for bail by
a female IPO, the journalist was
transferred to a more harsh filth
and deadly detention room. He
was locked up with Burglars,
kidnappers and criminal gangs
star indefinitely. The essence,
perhaps, is to teach him a big
lesson if his life to quickly
submit to the payment of the
bail bide, but he never did.
While he was in the cell he
was hungry and begging a
female detention officer to buy
him breads and mineral with
his money to eat with fellow
inmates, but was ignored.
Suddenly his colleagues
came asking for his bail when
the information got to them
through on Hon. Micah.J.Avong
of Solid Card Printers whose
petition against abuse of office
by Sgt Hosea Yunusa and Insp
Okpe was being investigated
by the same journalist. Even
though the coming of his
colleagues to secure his release
was commendable, they were
not assertive. Rather than
demanding to see the DPO,
who was on seat, immediately
on arrival as leaders, they spent
their time lobbing IPOs who
had little or no regard for them
in terms of norms and value
and influence. It took them a
long time before it got to the
knowledge of the DPO who
pretended to be ignorant of
the settlement. And even when
informed, he brought flimsy
and tribal sentiment to justify
his disposition to start the
process of bail.
After he was granted bail,
free of charge though his
colleagues, the journalist
became worried of what would
be the fate of the detained
under-aged boys he left behind
in the cell. He remembered
the pathetic dilemma in some
of the conversations among
the under-aged detainee,
particularly with regard to bail
with money. Conversations
were, though done in Hausa
language: Oh! any how it goes,
we must pay to be bailed, at
least N5, 000-N10, 000 each,
before leaving this place. Even
though my boss who brought
me here later discovered I had
no fault, but the police insisted
in detaining me. I was tortured
severely with injuries all over
my body for what I don’t know
about it. The same thing with us.
We were arrested for removing
part of kick-starter of a car
and we admitted because we
did it, said two other detained
underage”. As journalist,
I promised I was going to
publish their complaints for
the world to know the rots in
police station in Kaduna and
Nigeria in general.
My humble suggestion
is that, aside Freedom of
Information Law, journalists
should be empowered to also
supervise and report arrest
and detention from all police
cells daily to curtail the excess
of police officers. This will
go a long way in reducing
arbitrary arrest and detention
of the under-aged, unlawful
detention and bail with money
which is still happening in all
police stations in Nigeria.