WHY SSS ARRESTED ELENDU …As hunt for publishers of Pointblanknews.com, Sahareporters.com continues
Indications have emerged as to why officials of the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) arrested the publisher of the online media outfit Elendureports.com, Mr. Jonathan Elendu, as he stepped into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, last weekend.
According to top SSS sources, the federal government had been on the trail of publishers of internet-based news organizations such as Pointblanknews.com, Saharareporters.com as well as Elendureports.com, and had therefore spread a dragnet to arrest the publishers if and when they are sighted in Nigeria.
According to the sources, the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration has been unsettled by damaging yet true reports from these online news organizations on its activities and style of governance and had, in fact, threaded where angels feared to, by publishing exclusive stories which newspaper editors in Nigeria would not touch.
The worry of government, according to these security sources, was that the opposition may have gone beyond feeding these online publications with damaging stories on government, but financing its activities. This worry is heightened by the fact that with increasing access to the internet by Nigerians, these online publications now gain wider acceptance over conventional Nigerian newspapers as sources of information. The situation is not being helped by Nigerian editors who often cull stories from these online sources to enrich their papers.
A top SSS official who begged not to be named, told Pointblanknews.com that, but for operational lapses by security officials at both the Nnamdi Azikiwe and Murtala Mohammed International Airports, Elendu would have been “taken in” over a month ago. “The men and officers who allowed him slip through our airports have been dealt with accordingly,” the source volunteered.
Another top SSS official offered: “He has been speaking to us. It is nothing serious. We only want to know the sources of his information, just to make sure that some elements have not infiltrated the ranks of these internet news hawkers to cause trouble for us,” adding, “you know that your freedom of expression ends where mine begins.”
Meanwhile, Elendu’s arrest has begun to draw flak from human rights activists. In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA, HURIWA, upbraided the State Security Service [SSS] over the arrest “even when the current administration preaches the mantra of the Rule of law and Respect for the Human Rights of Nigerian Citizens and other citizens of the World resident in Nigeria.”
In the statement signed by its Coordinator, Mr. Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA said: “Coming on the heels of the recent arrest of some editors of Channels Television by the SSS, Elendu’s arrest, apart from being illegal and a clear breach of his fundamental human rights guaranteed in chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution, is a sad throwback to the ugly days of repressive authoritarian rule of the military. “Elendu’s arrest by agents of the State, in our estimation, is nothing short of an attempt to harass and intimidate publishers of media organizations considered critical of the style of key figures in the current administration’. “We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Jonathan Elendu, or his arraignment before a court of competent jurisdiction, if he is suspected to have contravened any laws of the land. “We call on all lovers of freedom to resist this systematic clampdown on freedom of expression by an administration that would rather its business was conducted under a cloak of “secrecy.” It began with Channels Television. Today it is Elendureports.com. Only God know who will be next” the Rights group stated.