MRA Condemns Kidnap Of Journalist, Calls On Federal Government To Effect His Immediate Release

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) on Friday condemned the kidnapping of The Punch newspaper correspondent, Mr. Okechukwu Nnodim, on February 3 and called on the Federal Government and security agencies to take urgent action to locate and free him from his abductors.

Mr. Nnodim was kidnapped from his home on the night of February 3 by five armed men who stormed his compound in the Arab Road area of Kubwa in Abuja by scaling the fence. The kidnappers also abducted the two sons of a widow in a neighbouring house.

Condemning the kidnap, MRA noted in a statement by its Programme Director, Mr. Ayode Longe, that although the reasons for the abduction of Mr. Nnodim and the two others by the gunmen were still unknown, since they are citizens and under the jurisdiction of Nigeria, the government, its law enforcement and security agencies have a duty to investigate the crime and bring perpetrators to justice.

Mr. Longe said: “Security and law enforcement agencies in Nigeria need to wake up from their slumber as the level of insecurity of lives and property of Nigerians, and other residents in the country has now reached unacceptable proportions and those responsible for ensuring their security appears unable to rise to the occasion.”

He noted that “in the last few years, journalists have been kidnapped in their homes, on their way to work or from work with no effective response from the law enforcement and security agencies, with most people consumed by the fear that it is likely to be their turn at anytime and feeling helpless to do anything about the situation.”

According to Mr. Longe, in 2020, MRA documented several cases of journalists kidnapped either from their homes or while returning from work, such as Mr. Maxwell Nashian, a journalist with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), was kidnapped from his home in Adamawa state in January 2020 and later died in the hospital after his release; and Chinenye Iwuoha, another journalist with the FRCN who was kidnapped in Umuahia, the Abia state capital on May 6, 2020 while returning from work.

He also recalled the case of Mr. Mienpamo Saint, a news blogger and owner of Naijalivetv.com, who was abducted on May 9, 2020 from his home at INEC Road in Kpansia, a suburb of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State by masked gunmen; and Mrs. Chinyere Okoye, an Assistant Manager of News and Current Affairs at the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Channel 6 Aba, who was abducted by unknown gunmen in front of her house at Obikabia Road in Aba, Abia State on May 27, 2020,while she was returning from her office.

Mr. Longe noted that incidents of kidnapping of journalists and other citizens have become too rampant, and a real cause of concern that requires urgent and concerted action.

He reminded the government that it has a duty to ensure the safety of lives and property of Nigerians, stressing that it must not shirk that responsibility as it derives its legitimacy from them.

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