The Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN) has condemned the recent police harassment of and invasion of the headquarters of Kings Communications Limited, publishers of the weekly and online specialised newspaper, MMS Plus, on Tuesday, August 10, 2021, over the medium’s publication of a story allegedly deemed unpleasant by the management of the Dangote Refinery.
In a statement signed by MARAN President, Mr Anya Njoku, the association noted that the illegal breach of Kings Communications Limited head office by plainclothed men purporting to be operatives of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) Zone Two Command Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had disrupted the media organisation’s operations for several hours that day.
The police team had arrested and only released one of the medium’s journalists after being held for several hours in handcuffs and paraded across the NPF Zone Two Command Headquarters complex at Onikan, Lagos State, South-West Nigeria.
“MARAN is filled with apprehension that the Editor of MMS Plus, Mr. Kenneth Jukpor, who is the incumbent Assistant Secretary-General has been “invited” to report at that police formation, even as a number of its operatives made subtle but most vile threat that they were in possession of every information of the personnel of Kings Communications Limited and their respective family members”
“The angst of MARAN, the oldest formal grouping of accredited and professional journalists in Nigeria and anywhere else in the world, over the security and safety of the media house’s personnel and their families in this reprehensible drama of impunity against MMS Plus is certainly not unfounded, bearing in mind the numerous cases of wilful damage or destruction of lives, limbs and properties that lie gathering dust and unresolved in the cold cases files of the Nigeria Police across the country”
“MARAN is sorely worried that the harassment of the personnel of King Communications Limited is treading the path of a resurgence of a culture of impunity against journalists in Nigeria being perpetrated by government security operatives”
“MARAN, therefore, passionately appeals to the Inspector-General of Police Usman Alkali Baba to use his good offices and intercede promptly to call the erring officers to order by having them cease and desist from further harassment of the MMS Plus team”
“MARAN is hopeful of the expeditious resolution of the issue, noting that Baba has brought a new lease of life to bear on the headship of the NPF particularly in the very critical areas of adherence to due process and stakeholder engagements in the operations of the security agency.
“The Press is constitionally entrusted with informing and enlightening the society as responsible watchdogs. This right of the Press is inalienable, and any infringement on it reprehensible and utterly condemnable of any society ascribing any semblance of civilisation to itself.
“A properly constituted court of competent jurisdiction remain the proper channel for trying and resolving any matter in which any party, be it government, individual or corporate organisation, feeling aggrieved over whatever perceived infraction by the Press must turn to for redress. It is certainly not by resorting to the repugnancy of extra-judicial steps, as displayed by a section of a conglomerate”