Akwa Ibom throws journalist in jail for taking photos

A female journalist in Akwa Ibom state, South-south Nigeria, has been jailed for taking photos of task force officials who raided a city spot.

The spot is said to be notorious for illegal street-trading.

The journalist, Mary Ekere, has  spent two nights in the prison as the journalists’ union in the state battleto secure her freedom.

Ms Ekere covers the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly for The Post, a local newspaper in the state.

She was walking past a popular recreational spot called Ibom Plaza, in Uyo, the state capital, when she saw officials of Akwa Ibom government task force raiding the spot.

She decided to take some snapshots of their operations, Gideon Ekere, the editor-in-chief of The Post said.

“They were on illegal operation, obviously. So, they arrested her for taking the photos, pushed her into their vehicle, and then threw her into jail just like that,” Mr Ekere said.

The task force is under the state government’s Environmental & Waste Management Agency headed by a man named Prince Ikim.

The journalist was arrested Monday around 12:30 p.m. and later remanded in the Uyo prisons the same day.

Ms Ekere, wearing prisons uniform, was taken to a sanitation court Tuesday morning.

The journalists’ union in Akwa Ibom made frantic but unsuccessful effort to secure her release, on learning about her arraignment.

“I went there (the court) in the morning, we were assured (by Prince Ikim) that bail conditions would be given to her and that she would be released,” Amos Etuk, the chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State Council said Tuesday night.

Mr Etuk said he also got assurance from the prosecutor that  the journalist was going to be released on bail on Tuesday.

Ms Ekere met her bail conditions but was taken back to the prisons because the magistrate had left without signing the bail documents.

She said the chairman of the agency, Mr Ikim has been informed about the journalist’s arraignment and that he was surprised she has not been released.

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