Justice Ajoke of the Abuja High Court in Wuse 2 on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 has ordered for the immediate release of Timothy Elombah, editor of Elombah.com who was arrested in the wee hours of January 1st, on the orders of the inspector general of police.
Delivering her judgment, Justice Ajoke ruled that Timothy Elombah should be released immediately, and asked him to provide one reasonable surety with five hundred thousand naira in like sum.
The Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, OPAN, Nigeria’s premier association of digital/new media publishers, has strongly condemned the brazen arrest of the duo of Daniel Elombah and Tim Elombah, the publisher and editor respectively, of United Kingdom-based online news website, Elombah.com by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Nigeria Police Force on “Orders from Above.”
The editor of Elombah.com, Tim Elombah, has been remanded in police custody in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for a period of seven days pending the completion of police investigation and filing a formal charge against him.
Mr. Elombah was taken to the Grade 1 Area Court, Mpape, by the Nigeria Police on Tuesday, for alleged criminal offences of conspiracy, defamatory or injurious falsehood, and attempt to further commit an indictable offence, as well as aiding and abetting of inciting disturbance.
Operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force in the wee hours of Monday, January 1, stormed the Elombah compound in Nnewi, Anambra State, in a commando-style operation, arresting him Tim and his elder brother, Daniel Elombah – London-based lawyer and publisher of elombah.com.
This excessive use of force was carried out in the presence of the latter’s wife, two kids and aged mother. While Daniel was released later in the day following public outcry, Tim remained in detention.
According to OPAN, the arrest follows the publication of an opinion piece titled, “IGP Ibrahim Idris’ Unending Baggage of Controversies”, which the police claims contained falsehood and defamatory allegations against Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris and his wife, Mrs. Astha Ibrahim Idris.
The publication was syndicated to many media platforms besides Elombah.com.
“OPAN views the assault on Elombah.com journalists as part of a sustained plot by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to intimidate and suppress press freedom,” an e-mailed statement to The Trent on Tuesday, January 2, 2017 said.
“We wish to remind this administration that we are in a democratic dispensation. The practice of using security agencies to harass journalists, especially those operating in the digital media must STOP.
“We implore this administration to respect free speech and protect the fundamental rights of citizens, whilst also urging the judicial arm of government not to allow its judges and courts become a tool in the hands of dictators and oppressors, to legitimize their abuse and violation of human rights,” the statement ended.