International Press Institute (IPI) Nigeria has called for the immediate withdrawal of what it described as “vexatious charges against Wikki Times publisher, and reporter.”
The institute noted with concern the arrest, detention, and subsequent arraignment before a Magistrate court in Bauchi of the publisher of Wikki Times online newspaper, Mr Haruna Mohammed, and a reporter, Mr Idris Kamal, by the police in Bauchi.
A statement issued by the IPI Nigeria secretary, Ahmed Shekarau, yesterday in Abuja said the journalists claimed that they were physically assaulted while they were in detention.
IPI said the offences of criminal conspiracy, defamation of character and cyber stalking with which the journalists have now been charged are not only unfortunate, but also show that the police are using bogus crimes with which to continue the harassment and intimidation of the journalists.
It also condemned the practice of using the police by civilians to harass and intimidate journalists.
The institute however advised that “anyone who is aggrieved by any news item published by Wikki Times should seek redress in court instead of using the police or other security agents to harass the journalists.”
It said further that Nigeria’s legal system has made adequate provisions for the protection of reputation.
“IPI Nigeria demands the withdrawal and discontinuation of the vexatious charges filed against the two journalists with immediate effect,” the statement said.
It also called on the Inspector General of Police to call the Bauchi State police command to order.