Samuel Ogundipe, a journalist with Premium Times, an investigative newspaper in Nigeria, is currently in hiding. He is being hounded by officials of Nigeria’s Department of State Security (DSS) for revealing a leaked memo exposing an alleged fight for control within the President’s inner circle. On 1 March, unidentified persons lurked around his home in a suspicious manner.
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The Inspector General of Police Force Headquarters
Loius Edet House
Shehu Shagari Way
Area 11 Garki, Abuja
Email: [email protected]
I write to express my concern regarding Samuel Ogundipe, an investigative journalist facing harassment and intimidation in Nigeria.
On 21 February 2020, Samuel Ogundipe, wrote a report for the Premium Times newspaper about an alleged rift within the Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari’s inner circle. A week later, on Sunday 1 March, security men were sighted at Samuel Ogundipe’s home. On the same day, two men in plain clothes suspected to be officials of the DSS visited the home of the editor-in-chief of Premium Times and demanded his whereabouts from his family. Furthermore, three vehicles with men dressed in plain clothes were spotted at the perimeters of the Premium Times office.
Samuel Ogundipe fears for his security and safety and is currently in hiding. If he is arrested, he could be detained, tortured to disclose his sources and charged with a serious offense like treason, which carries a maximum penalty of a life sentence. This is not the first time that the DSS has harassed Samuel Ogundipe. In August 2018, he was arrested and detained in a police cell for three days, accused of violating laws governing the dissemination of official secrets, after he published a story citing information from an unpublished government report sent to the Inspector General of Police regarding a siege on Nigeria’s National Assembly by heavily armed officials of the DSS. Samuel was subsequently charged with ‘criminal trespass’ and ‘theft of police document.’ Since then he has been on a prolonged trial which has suffered several adjournments because the prosecution has not attended any of the trials.
I urge you to stop the harassment and intimidation of Samuel Ogundipe; and fully respect and protect the right to freedom of expression and media freedom in Nigeria and ensure journalists are not threatened or harassed to disclose their sources of information.