The International Press Centre, IPC and Media Rights Agenda, MRA have called for the release of The Punch newspaper correspondent, Mr. Okechukwu Nnodim, who was abducted by unknown gunmen in his residence in Abuja.
IPC and MRA made the call in a separate press statement issued by both organizations, stressing that the Federal Government and security agencies should take urgent action to locate and free him from his abductors.
In his words, Executive Director, IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade said, “The spate of insecurity in the country should be of serious concern to all adding that it is very disturbing that journalists and media practitioners have also become easy targets.”
Mr. Arogundade enjoined the security agencies to do all they can to ensure that Nnodim is set free without being harmed in any way.
Condemning the kidnap, MRA’s Programme Director, Mr. Ayode Longe, said 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 have 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 any time 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), who 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.
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 the lives and property of Nigerians, stressing that it must not shirk that responsibility as it derives its legitimacy from them.