Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the arrest of the Bureau Chief of LEADERSHIP Newspapers, Midat Joseph by the police in Kaduna State.
This is as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also condemned the arrest.
Joseph, who was arrested by the police in Kaduna at about 5pm on Wednesday is being held for a comment he made on a messaging platform, Whatsapp.
More than 24 hours after his arrest, there has been no official statement from the police.
He was taken to the Metropolitan police station popularly known as ‘metro,’ where he was held overnight and was transferred to the Kaduna state police command after a bail form was signed by the chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kaduna council, Comrade Adamu Yusuf, where he was held again for another round of interrogation and further detained.
Security operatives also searched Mr Joseph’s residence at Sabon Tasha after his arrest, and also scrutinsed messages on his GSM phone.
He was still in custody at the time of filing this report yesterday.
Though no charges had been preferred against him as at yesterday, public relations officer of the state police command, ASP Aliyu Usman, told LEADERSHIP that Joseph was being held for supporting calls for for a protest over killings in Southern Kaduna and making inciting comments.
Joseph is a native of Southern Kaduna.
According to Aliyu, investigations were ongoing to ascertain the extent of Joseph’s involvement with members of the Whatsapp group, comprised mainly of people from the southern part of the state, who he claimed were trying to incite the people against the state.
He, was, however, unable to explain why Joseph was singled for arrest in spite of the many people on the chat group, but pointed out that as a journalist, he had no right to be in such an association.
LEADERSHIP sought to know from the PRO when Joseph would either be charged to court or released on bail and all he said was that it was not a decision he could take as “other people are involved.”
At the time of filing this story by 7:55pm, it was not very clear where he was being detained as security men at the gate of the command headquarters said they had been moved to the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) office in Gabasawa part of the state. Heavily armed policemen at the SARS office directed the search party to the office of the state-owned security outfit ‘Operation Yaki,’ claiming that he was not in their custody either and hinted that even if he was, nobody would be allowed to see him.
A security source who spoke to our correspondent in confidence claimed that posts on the Whatsapp group were “aimed towards arms insurrection to force government to stop the killings in Southern Kaduna.’’
“Midat was not arrested because he criticised the government in his reports or did anything within his professional calling as a journalist. He is among a group that is trying to cause mayhem in Kaduna, over the Southern Kaduna issue,’’ he said.