Gyang Bere, Jos
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Plateau State Council, has expressed deep concerned over the arrest and detention of Punch Correspondent in Jos, Friday Aloko, and several persons for 28 hours by the Nigeria Army, as the search for missing Maj. Gen. Idris Alkali (rtd) continues.
The union condemned the arbitrary harassment, intimidation and arrest of members of the public, last Saturday, by the Army as part of their search.
In a press statement, on Monday, signed by the Chairman, Paul Jatau and Secretary, Paul Amine, the body said the detention of innocent persons for 28 hours was in violation of their fundamental human rights.
“We expect the Army to conduct its intelligence and go after those they suspect and not arrest anybody in sight.
“On Saturday, a member of our Union, a reporter of the Punch Newspaper was arrested alongside other persons by the army and was detained for 28 hours in Rukuba Barracks as part of the search.
“We recall that at the commencement of the evacuation of water from Dura Du pond in Jos South, the Army told the public that they have credible intelligence that the missing general’s car was in the pond and true to their word, the car was retrieved from the pond.
“We expect them to use the same intelligence they used to locate the car to go after the suspects as they continue the search for Gen. Alkali or his body.”
Jatau expressed worry that innocent people were not spared by the ‘crude method’ the military have employed thereby instilling fear and overheating the polity.
He said the Army had said, in a statement, that it would exhibit high level of professionalism in line with international standards in the search but what is on display contradicts the assurances.
Jatau lamented that it was the same Saturday that a member of NUJ and several innocent persons were arrested and detained for 28 hours at the 3 Division of the Nigeria Army, Rukuba Barracks Jos.
“We wish to state unequivocally that while journalists support the search for the missing senior officer, indeed the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Plateau State Council, will not hesitate in withdrawing its members from covering their activities if the intimidation and harassment continues.”
The Punch Correspondent, Friday Aloko, said, “With my 28 hours detention by the military, I am now convinced that Nigeria is in serious trouble.
“The incidents in question happened between Saturday October 6 and the night of Sunday October 7 2018.
“I came back last (Sunday) night after spending about 28 hours behind bars over a former Chief of Administration in Nigerian Army, Gen. Mohammed Idris Alkali (rtd), who had been declared missing in questionable circumstances.
“On that Saturday October 6 2018, I went to the UBA ATM and did a cash transaction and decided to buy Irish potatoes and eggs at the popular Anne Breeze Restaurant at Rayfield area of Jos.
“The waiters have not brought my food when soldiers in two lorry trucks (about 30 of them), all masked and armed, swooped on the place, shot indiscriminately at sight and arrested every human being they sighted.
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“My initial feeling during the shooting was that they were either the Fulani herdsmen (who had been a thorn in the flesh of the Berom ethnic nationality), fake soldiers in military uniform or Boko Haram members. Many of them were masked.
“Passersby were not spared as women and persons who were living in nearby houses were picked.
“Even my identification that a’m a journalist with Punch Newspapers didn’t help matters as they did not even want to see my Identity Card. We were 37 victims of invasion, 28 men and 9 women.”
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