MRA Condemns Kidnap Of Journalists and Families

By Jonathan Okpanachi

Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Monday, expressed deep concern over the weekend’s abduction of two journalists based in Kaduna State, along with their wives and children.

MRA in a release called on the federal government, particularly its security and law enforcement agencies, to take immediate action to secure their safe release in accordance with its duty to ensure the safety of journalists and other media workers.

It was reported that about 15 armed men invaded the Dahjonu community in Millennium City in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State in the night of Saturday, and abducted Mr Abdulgafar Alabelewe, a reporter with The Nation newspaper; and Mr AbdulRaheem Abdu of Blueprint newspaper, along with their wives and children.

In a statement issued in Lagos, MRA’s Deputy Executive Director, Mr Ayode Longe, said: “The kidnap of the two journalists and their families is a heinous act that underscores the growing dangers faced by journalists in Nigeria, and the urgent need for the federal government to fulfill its obligation to ensure the safety of journalists and other media workers.

“We unequivocally condemn the abduction and call on the federal government, as well as all relevant security and law enforcement agencies, to take all necessary measures to secure the immediate and safe release of these journalists and their families. The government must also act swiftly and decisively to bring the perpetrators of this despicable crime to justice.”

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He said the safety of journalists was vital to the preservation of media freedom and the protection of human rights, adding that journalists play a crucial role in informing the public, holding power to account, and fostering a democratic society.

According to him, any attack on journalists is an attack on the collective right of Nigerians to information and freedom of expression.

Mr Longe noted that in addition to Section 14(2)(b) of the constitution, which makes the security of all Nigerians, including journalists, the primary purpose of government, the government also has an obligation under various regional and international instruments to which Nigeria is a party to ensure the safety of journalists, to properly and adequately investigate any attack against journalists and to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

He therefore urged the government to reaffirm its commitment to the safety of journalists by taking concrete steps to protect media professionals from threats, violence and other forms of attacks, including ensuring that security agencies are adequately equipped and trained to respond to such incidents and that there is a clear and effective strategy for preventing future abductions and attacks on journalists.

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Mr Longe said MRA stands in solidarity with the families of Mr Alabelewe and Mr Abdu during what must be an incredibly difficult time for them, and called on all Nigerians to join it in demanding the safe return of the journalists and their families.

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