THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED. PLEASE READ "BLOGGER, JONATHAN ELENDU, STILL IN CUSTODY" WHEN YOU ARE DONE WITH THIS. ALSO, JOIN US ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31ST FOR "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!" DETAILS ARE IN THE RIGHT SIDEBAR OF THIS PAGE. THANKS.
Nigeria's State Security Service or SSS, the same intelligence agency that shut down Channels TV for legally broadcasting incorrect information about President Yar'Adua, is at it again.
Jonathan Elendu, the writer at Elendu Reports, was arrested by Nigeria's SSS on Saturday evening upon arrival in Nigeria from the United States. Elendu was reportedly arrested to answer questions because his 'activities' have allegedly generated some national security issues. One publication specifically reported that Elendu was arrested for "sponsoring a guerilla news agency."[sic]
He was held for over 24 hours before he was interrogated. A spokesperson for the SSS told the Nigerian media that the "rule of law" would be followed and that Elendu wold be given an opportunity to defend himself, saying,
"Mr. Jonathan Elendu was invited today to answer questions on matters concerning national security which has to do wtih his reports. [sic] We are following the rule of law in whatever we are doing. After the question and answer, we can now establish the facts why he was invited."It is not clear whether Elendu has been released or whether he will be held indefinitely. What is clear is that "other on-line publishers who are abroad run the risk of being arrested on their return to Nigeria."
THE SAHARA REPORTERS CONNECTION
News reports reveal that Elendu was mistaken to have some association with Sahara Reporters, a Nigerian site, hence the arrest. I have said it before and will say it again- although I can appreciate the interest in the sometimes sensationalist and "juicy" stories Sahara Reporters shares on its website, I am constantly taken back by their inability or refusal, to back up their claims and allegations. As a result, I personally do not endorse that site.
Nevertheless, association with Sahara Reporters on its own should not be cause for arrest, detention and the infringement of Constitutional and Human Rights. There was no need to ambush and arrest Elendu at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport. The SSS could simply have paid Elendu a visit at his residence and interviewed him there, after all he has not been declared a criminal and should not be treated as one simply for sharing ideas contrary to those of the status quo. At the end of the day, it does not matter what a Nigerian website or blogger says about Yar'Adua or Nigeria, what matters more is how Yar'Adua and the Nigerian government react to what is said. An overreaction from the government to comments is always absolutely unnecessary. If Elendu or anyone at Sahara Reporters has defamed anyone, then they should be sued in a court of law, not detained in an SSS cell or the like.
MY HUMBLE THOUGHTS
As one who has been warned many a time, and from numerous sources, to tone down my content and reporting on Nigeria and specifically Yar'Adua, I am unfortunately not surprised that a fellow Nigerian political junky has been arrested. In fact, I am shocked that independent Nigerian thinkers have been allowed to present and discuss political issues online for this long. For all those bloggers who have criticized my reluctance to introduce myself to them outside of my blog personality, I hope you will now understand my polite but absolutely staunch rejection to your requests.
Nigeria is an incredible country that has fought its way back from the complete madness of Abacha's reign of corruption and terror to what it is now - a struggling democracy with bright innovators, seeking to unilaterally transform a nation with little to no assistance. Part of this transformation stems from the ability to think critically and to analyze situations and issues with an eye towards the needed improvements that will benefit all Nigerians. That is not a character trait of the Nigerian people that should ever again be suppressed, especially not by a democratic administration. There is enough fear in Nigerians when it comes to politics and standing up for what is right. We have suffered from Persistent Psychological Paralysis for long enough that a democratic President, in this case Yar'Adua, should not be party to further destroying national participation in what rightly belongs to the citizenry - the freedom to express their concerns and ideas. After all, the Nigerian Constitution guarantees, as "Fundamental Rights" the freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of thought and conscience, and freedom from discrimination.
There are those who will again say, as they did when I wrote 'Nigeria, Be Careful What You Wish For', that I give too much 'credit' to Yar'Adua. They argued that the Channels fiasco was more likely a result of overzealous individuals trying to prove their loyalty to Aso Rock. Well, I wonder if those bloggers, whose opinions I respect greatly, specifically Ijebuman, N.I.M.M.O., and Chxta, still feel the same way.
Only last night, I joked with a fellow Nigerian blogger that I would not step foot on my fatherland until I had the personal assurance and protection of God Almighty. This most recent show of oppression is a great reminder to all that freedom is not a luxury from which many benefit. One such individual is Jonathan Elendu, who, if still in detention, must be released from custody.
And now, the internet is abuzz with rumors that the heads of others online publications Pointblanknews and Sahara Reporters, to be exact, are being "hunted" by the SSS. What is next?
To see how Nigerians are reacting to this latest incident, take a peek at NairaLand, a top Nigerian forum.
Hattip to Waffy for introducing me to this issue.
UPDATE: After reading my post, The Committee to Protect Bloggers has done a post on Elendu as well. Hopefully that will bring international attention to Elendu and his detention.
UPDATE: Reporters Without Borders is also looking into Elendu's case.
UPDATE: The SSS now claims that Elendu was not "arrested", just "invited" even though he has been held for 5 days without any contact with his family. They have now accused him of "money laundering".
UPDATE: The Frontline Blogger has picked up this story.
UPDATE: The BBC has finally featured Elendu's plight.
UPDATE: SSS now confirms Elendu arrest. Claims it is for "sedition".
NIGERIAN BLOGGERS ARE TALKING ABOUT THIS.....
- Ababoy's "Crackdown"
- Waffarian's "Freedom of Information"
- Beauty's "Arrested For Blogging"
- Chukbyke's "Why Elendu..."
- Sokari's "Nigerian Blogger Arrested"
- KritzMoritz's "Jonathan Elendu: As Darkness Hovers"
- WWN's "Elendureports Arrested By SSS"
- CCUD's "Elendu's Arrest & The Safety of Online Journalism"
- Sugabelly's "Elendu, & Why Yar'Adua is a Fraud"
- Loomnie's "Detained Nigerian Blogger"
- Rudolf Okonkwo's "Jonathan Elendu and the Nigerian SSS"
- Chxta's "Weep"
- NaijaECash's "Nigerian Blogger Arrested!!!"
- Chidi Opara's "Real Reason Why Nigerian Online News Publisher Was Arrested"
- Naija Pikin's "Free Jonathan Elendu Now!"
- Imnakoya's "On Jonathan Elendu: Blogger's Beware!"
Related Articles of Interest:
- BLOGGER, JONATHAN ELENDU, STILL IN CUSTODY
- Channels TV Shut Down By Yar'Adua
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime
- Nigeria, Be Careful What You Wish For
- The Nigerian Psyche
- Persistent Psychological Paralysis
- The Significance of Persistent Psychological Paralysis
- The Consequences of Yar'Adua's Mysterious Health
- Rewriting Abacha's History