3 UK based solicitors have have petitioned the British MP, Lyn Brown, the PM, Theresa May and the Foreign affairs Minister Boris Johnson over the arrest and continued harassment of Mr Daniel Elombah, by the Nigerian Police.
This comes as the international Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, warned Nigerian authorities to immediately release Timothy Elombah, editor of the news website Elombah.
Uk based Solicitors Uche Enekwa, Maurine Oji and VLS Solicitors told British authorities that Security forces arrested the lawyer and journalist at his home in Nnewi, a city in Anambra state, on January 1, 2018.
Timothy Elombah’s brother, Daniel, and their lawyer Obunike Ohaegbu told CPJ that police raided the family home in the early hours, and arrested the journalist, Daniel, and four other men. Police questioned the group separately for several hours and then released everyone except for Timothy Elombah, according to his brother. Daniel Elombah added that police told them the inspector general ordered their arrest because of what he called a defamatory article published on a news website called Opinion Nigeria.
The December 22 article was critical of Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police, according to the Premium Times. Elombah covers Boko Haram and has reported critically on President Buhari’s son.
Daniel Elombah, who is the website’s chief executive, denied that Elombah had anything to do with the article that police said was the basis for their arrest. He added that police have charged him and Timothy Elombah with cybercrime.
Daniel Elombah, a lawyer based in London, said that police have banned him from travel, which means that he and his family cannot return to their home in the U.K.
Jeff Okoroafor, the founder and publisher of Opinion Nigeria told CPJ that police requested the article be removed, but that he refused. He said no further action was taken. Ebiowei Dickson, who wrote the article, did not immediately respond to CPJ’s email.
“Nigerian authorities should immediately release Timothy Elombah, drop legal proceedings, and allow his brother Daniel to return home,” said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney, in New York. “Police have no business raiding a journalist’s home and locking him up just because an officer does not like something written in the press. It’s not even clear that the man they have detained had anything to do with the article they deem defamatory.”
The petition by Uche Enekwa titled- Re: Illegal and Unlawful detention of Mr. Daniel Elombah (a British Citizen) by the Inspector General of Police in Nigeria – reads in part:
My name is Uche Enekwa, a solicitor of Sabeers Stone Greene LLP.
I received a rather distressing Whatsapp message from a friend/client Mr Daniel Elombah who is a British Citizen on a visit to Nigeria.
Mr. Elombah went to Nigeria with his family over the Christmas period and was scheduled to return to London on or about 2nd January 2018 to enable his children resume school on or about 3rd January. Unknown to Mr. Elombah, the Nigerian authorities had a different agenda as heavily armed men broke into and entered his family home on or about 5am January 1st 2018 with orders to arrest him and other members of his family for an undisclosed offence.
It later transpired that no offence known to Nigerian Law as currently constituted had been committed by him or any other member of his family but that the Inspector General of Nigerian police personally ordered their arrest and detention because somebody published a less than flattering assessment of his performance as a police officer in an online media that had no connection either with Mr. Elombah or any member of his family.
It is important that the British Government intervenes in this matter to establish why a British Citizen should be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment on account of an offence he did not commit and for an offence which does not exist under the Nigerian law.
The present Nigerian government has degenerated into a dictatorship with rampant arrests and summary executions by Nigerian soldiers and police at the behest of members of Mr. Buhari’s government.
As you are aware, another British Citizen, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu was brutally attacked by Nigerian soldiers in his home on or about September 14th 2017 and is strongly suspected that the Nigerian army acting under the instructions of president Buhari, summarily executed him together with his parents and other family members. It is alleged that Mr. Kanu and his relatives were buried in mass graves at an unknown destinations.
We are rather surprised to say the least at the continued silence of the British Government in the face of the worst abuses of the rights of its citizens abroad by supposed friendly governments. One is left to wonder whether the silence is due to the fact that British citizens of Nigerian origin are less British than other British citizens.
I hope that is not the case but will appreciate our government’s intervention in this matter to save Mr. Elombah from the Nnamdi Kanu fate as the Nigerian government has a penchant for manufacturing false allegations and procuring false evidence to prove same before their courts.