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Group demands immediate release of incarcerated blogger Chris Kehinde Nwandu a.k.a CKN

By News Express on 09/09/2015

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Youths for Human Rights Protection and Transparency Initiative (YARPTI) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the immediate and unconditional release of popular Nigerian blogger, Chris Kehinde Nwandu (CKN).

It made the call in a statement issued in Owerri and signed by its president, Mr Kenneth Uwadi and media officer, Miss Veronica Ekpo, YARPTI. Nwandu is the owner of CKN Nigeria. The group also called for the immediate release of bloger Seun Oloketuyi, owner of Naijahottestgist. News Express, however, reports that Mr. Oloketuyi has been released on bail and is now back home.

YARPTI recalled that Oloketuyi was on August 25, 2015 arraigned before a Federal High Court in Lagos, on two counts charge, for allegedly publishing a defamatory story on his blog, against the Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank Plc, Nnamdi Okonkwo. He was accused of publishing on his blog a story alleging that Okonkwo had an extramarital affair with one Justina, a married woman purportedly working in the Marketing Department of Fidelity Bank. On the other hand, Nwandu was arraigned by the police for allegedly posting on his Facebook page the story published by Oloketuyi and photos of the purported Justina, whom investigations showed does not exist.
According to YARPTI, Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court had denied them bail and ordered that they should be remanded in prison custody. Unimpressed with the handling of the case, YARPTI recalls that Nwandu has recently been criticising President Buhari’s regime over his recent political appointments and some government policies via the Facebook; and has been warned “to desist from that or face the music.” The group observed: “We see the arrest and detention of these bloggers as President Buhari’s move to clampdown on freedom of speech in Nigeria. We are aware of the president’s record of deep-seated zero tolerance to any opposition to his actions or inactions. We believe that the government is hiding behind the Nnamdi Okonkwo’s issue to get back at Nwandu and co.”
It noted that YARPTI is against anyone publishing falsehood: “We are aware that in Nigeria any person who publishes any defamatory matter is guilty of  misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for one year; and any person who publishes any defamatory matter, knowing it to be false, is liable to imprisonment for two, three to 10 years imprisonment or a fine ranging from three to 25 million naira. But it must be proved that he knew it to be false and that it was published with something called actual malice. Actual malice means that the story was published with the knowledge that it was false or that the story was published with reckless disregard of whether or not it was false. Defamation in Nigeria is also bail able.”
The group averred: “If we silence an opinion, for all we know, we are silencing the truth. A wrong opinion may contain a grain of truth, which will lead to finding the whole truth. YARPTI is calling on Nigerians to resist the government of Nigeria turning the judiciary and the DSS to instrument of repression and intimidation of opposition views. Freedom is the right or ability to think, act, speak or write without interference. Press freedom is the ability of the mass media to operate without the interference of the government. No one should drag Nigeria back to the era of military jackboot absolutism, with its associated abuse of the fundamental rights of people to freedom of expression.
“If the government of Nigeria starts using the court to shut people up in a democracy, where is the hope for the common man? Detention of the two bloggers is a bad omen of what awaits those who criticise the present government in Nigeria. And we say no to any form of civilian dictatorship. For over a decade, the Nigerian working people and youths had struggled against military dictatorship and for return to civil rule. Thousands of working class people and labour, youth and pro-democracy activists were subject to arbitrary arrests, detention without trial, torture and killing for fighting for an end to military rule.
“Millions of Nigerians had supported the struggle against the military in the expectation that an end to military rule will bring about an end to mass poverty, declining living standards, huge unemployment, massive corruption and wanton violations of democratic rights which characterised military dictatorship. It was hoped that civil rule would result in improved living conditions, availability of jobs, a reduction in crimes and corruption and respect for democratic rights.”
Reflecting on the democratic dispensation, YARPTI noted that many years in this civil rule, these expectations and hope of the masses have remained largely unfulfilled. “Economically, politically and socially, the country has either remained stagnant or the situation has become worse. The manufacturing sector remains in a state of comatose. Problems of fuel shortage and electricity power cuts are in the open,” the group said.

•Photo shows Chris Kehinde Nwandu (CKN).

Source News Express

Posted 09/09/2015 2:13:11 PM


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