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Amnesty International, others celebrate Jones Abiri, Bayelsa journalist detained without trial for 2 years

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By Omotolani Aromonlate

Local and international human rights organisations have today called on the Federal government to release a Bayelsa State based journalist Jones Abiri arrested by agents of the DSS two years, or start the trial of the journalist.

Abiri, who was arrested out his office in 2006 by a team of heavily armed security agents has been held incommunicado since. The federal government has refused to obey several court ruling that his continuous detention without trial is unlawful.

The DSS has refused his family and lawyers to have any access to him over the past two years and this, Amnesty International says, is a blow to Nigeria’s democratic credentials.

‘’How can a human being be held in secret services detention for 2-years without trial, access to lawyers or family? Travails of journalist #JonesAbiri is a question mark on rule of law in #Nigeria. Where is justice? Where is freedom?,’’ Amnesty International wrote on its twitter handle.

‘’ It is now 2 years since #JonesAbiri, editor and publisher of the Weekly Source newspaper, was arrested by DSS. He has remained in detention. Without trial or family visits.’’

A writer, Waziri Joel‏ @joeloseiga, wrote:

Sometimes when I pick a pen to write, one of the things that bother me the most is how fast Nigerians might just move on if I ever get picked up & detained by the secret service. Today makes it 2 years since critical Journalist #JonesAbiri was whisked away and detained by the DSS.

Another journalist, Ahmad Salkida‏ @A_Salkida, who has had his own challenges with the Nigerian security agencies over his reporting on the activities of Boko Haram, wrote:

‘’Today a #journalist, #JonesAbiri in #Nigeria is marking TWO YEARS in custody without trial by a democratic govt, not by a terrorist organization? And we are not all offended. I reject to be silent, #WhereisJonesAbiri? Is he dead or what? #NigerianGovernment must provide answers.’’

Perhaps the only official comment on the detention of Abiri has come frompersidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu when he was called out on the issue during the recent World Congress of International Press Institute in Abuja. He described the detained man as ‘a guest of the DSS.’

Shehu, who claimed Abiri was not a journalist as ‘does not belong to any chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists,’ said the man was arrested for pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft, as well as militant activities in the Niger Delta.

He said: “Admittedly, the issue of Abiri had been brought to the attention of the Presidency by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

“As a true believer in the rule of law and the integral role of the media in a democracy, the Presidency did interface with the security agency involved in the matter and our findings confirmed that the suspect is in custody because of alleged involvement in pipeline vandalism and theft.’’