Following the invasion of MMS Plus office by operatives of the Nigeria Police Force, Zonal CID Zone 2 Command, Onikan, Lagos, over a report on Dangote Refinery, the League of Maritime Editors and Publishers, has called on the Police Inspector General and the Lagos Police Commissioner to call the operatives of the Onikan Police CID to order on how to handle civil matters involving the media.
Operatives of the Police CID had during the invasion of the MMS Plus office arrested one of the Reporters, Mr. Yusuf Odejobi, who was later released late in the evening of Tuesday, this week.
Odejobi had given a sordid account of his ordeal in the hands of the operatives who allegedly were acting on the orders of some officials of the Dangote Group as a way of protesting against the report published by MMS Plus.
Describing the incident as an atrocious attack to intimidate the media, the veteran journalist group on Wednesday condemned the attack, adding that rather than playing the ugly role in the MMS Plus office, the Police CID should have advised the Dangote Group officials on the right approach to take over the aggrieved publication.
In a statement by the Vice President of League, Mr. Shola Fadeyi and Secretary, Mr. Francis Ugwoke, the group said the police invasion and arrest of the Reporter was a wrong and uncivilized approach to seek redress over unfavourable media reports.
The statement said there is an established process to take against any publication by an aggrieved party instead of the use of the Police to harass a media outfit.
The statement while calling on the Police CID to desist from further harassment of the MMS Plus Editor, Kenneth Jukpor and the Editor-in-Chief, Mr Kingsley Anaroke, demanded that the Police Force should offer an unreserved apology over the invasion of the MMS Plus office, arrest of the Reporter and handcuffing him over a civil matter in what portrayed the journalist as a common criminal.
Part of the statement reads, “The police invasion of the MMS Plus office over a story published by the medium is wrong. What we expected the Dangote Group officials to do was to seek a rejoinder to the report or seek other action if need be. Using the Police to go after the office and editorial team was not the best option. It is against press freedom. It is another way of using the police to intimidate the media”.
MMS Plus, according to the group, has not contravened any known law to have deserved such an harassment, abduction and shameless parade of one of its reporters like a common criminal.
League also advised the Police to turn its attention towards securing the citizenry particularly with the high level of insecurity in the nation instead of harassing the Press.