Nigerian Police authorities have disclosed why they are prosecuting Premium Times journalist, Samuel Ogundipe.
According to a Thursday statement signed by Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, Ogundipe is being held for violating sections of the Official Secret Act, Cyber Crime Act, and the Penal Code Law.
Ogundipe was arrested alongside the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, Musikilu Mojeed, and education reporter, Azeezat Adedigba.
While Mojeed and Adedigba have since regained freedom, Ogundipe was arraigned before a magistrate’s court on Wednesday.
The police are asking Ogundipe to reveal the source of a letter written by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on last week’s siege to the National Assembly by officials of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Other media organisations reported the story.
Moshood had on Wednesday denied knowledge of the details of Ogundipe’s arrest.
But in the Thursday statement, the police spokesman said that Ogundipe was arrested for “theft and unlawful possession of restricted and classified documents”.
The statement read, “The Nigeria Police Force’s attention was drawn to the innuendos and misinformation in the media about the arrest and ongoing prosecution of one Samuel Ogundipe of Premium Times online publication by Police Investigation Unit.
“The Force is categorically stating that One Samuel Ogundipe is being investigated and prosecuted for the offences of “theft and unlawful possession of restricted and classified documents” inimical to State/National Security that can jeopardize peace, breakdown of law and order capable of precipitating crisis in the Country.
“Mr. Samuel Ogundipe is also being investigated and prosecuted under other offences which violate Official Secret Act, Cyber Crime Act, and the Penal Code Law for which he has volunteered statements and is standing trial.
“It is factual to state that Mr. Samuel Ogundipe was arrested on the 14th of August, 2018 and on completion of Preliminary Investigation, he was arraigned in a court of competent jurisdiction in the FCT in less than Twenty Four (24) Hours of his arrest.
“He was remanded in Police custody and the case was adjourned to Monday, 20th August, 2018.”
The police, which described itself as a law-abiding organisation, further vowed to ensure the supremacy of the rule of law.
“However, individuals or groups who violate the law must be brought to justice, the Force will also ensure that all Nigerians irrespective of profession, practice or career are subject to the same Law, and therefore wish to impress it on the Media to encourage prosecution of all offenders upon whom a prima facie case has been established.
“Every concerned groups or interested persons should be aware that the matter is in court and the due process of law is being followed.
“The Nigeria Police Force and the media are veritable partners in ensuring peace, law and order in the country, but the Force will not compromise or allow an offender to go scot free or pervert the end of justice,” the statement further read.
The reporter’s arrest and prosecution has sparked a global call for his release.
A coalition of civil society organisations led by presidential aspirant, Omoyele Sowore, and celebrated musician and activist, Charles Oputa (aka Charly Boy) led a protest to the Police Headquarters in Abuja on Thursday to demand Ogundipe’s release.