- TheNigerian News has called for the release of their staff by the Nigeria Police in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria
- The organisation said five of their journalists were arrested while gathering materials for the news story
- According to the organisation, the staff of the organisation were illegally arrested around the Wuse District Hospital
The minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Bello Mohammed and the Nigeria Police has been urged to order the release of five staff of TheNigerian News Group.
TheNigerian News said the staff working in one of the platforms of the organisation - Television Nigerian - were allegedly arrested on Friday, January 31, by the Police on the instruction of the FCT minister.
The journalists - Pricilla Ajeshola, Jacob Orji, Abayomi Adedoyin, Peggy Shande and David Gold Enemingin were further detained and paraded by the FCT Police command on Saturday, February 1, as persons attempting to cause panic in the nation’s capital.
Coronavirus: Panic in Abuja as police arrest 5 suspects for claiming to have contracted killer disease (photo)
Speaking on the arrest, the media officer of the TheNigerian News Group, Lawrence Audu, said the staff of the organisation were illegally arrested around the Wuse District Hospital.
He said they were arrested in the process of gathering materials for a special report on Lassa fever and Coronavirus.
Audu said every attempt to secure their release was rejected by the FCT Police.
"Unfortunately, the Honourable Minister refused to yield to every plea as his staff insisted on parading these patriotic citizens like common criminals," Audu said.
Audu said the repressive attack on the media was ostensibly an attempt to suppress facts as to the FCT administration's handling of the outbreak of Lassa fever and Coronavirus that have put the world and citizens all over the country on alert.
He said that the decision of those behind this humiliating episode to go this route of repression and maligning of the journalists is most unfortunate since TheNigerian News is not in the practice of undermining the country.
He said that if the authorities had issues with the mode the journalists went about gathering materials for their report, the logical thing to do would have been to correct them as opposed to taking the repressive measures that now strongly suggest that residents of Abuja are being lied to in the territory's status in relation to the Lassa fever outbreak or the even the deadly Coronavirus.
Audu said: "Contrary to what the Police or any other person wants to say, TheNigerian News in its three years of existence has only promoted the image and reputation of our country and never involved itself in spreading falsehood."
He further demanded that the police immediately retract its stand on the arrested staff who were going about their duty to sensitize the general public about the Lassa fever epidemic across the country.
"We urge our readers and viewers to remain calm and not be dissuaded by this unwarranted provocation aimed at making us drop our pro-Nigeria stance," Audu said.
The launch of our radio as earlier announced will still take place on the set date," he added.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that the spokesperson for the FCT Police command, Anjuguri Manza, while leading the parade of the journalists said that the suspects who are alleged pranksters had visited the Wuse District Hospital.
Manza said the journalists claimed that one of them had been infected by the Coronavirus to cause confusion as well as a disruption of normal health service delivery at the hospital.
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