The controversial Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who ordered the arrest of Daniel and Tim Elombah, the Publisher and Editor respectively, of United Kingdom-based online news website, Elombah.com Friday said they were arrested because they “committed an offence.” He declined to state the nature of offence.
Idris, who has suffered serious bashing alongside the police in the media because of the manner the journalists and members of their families were harassed, brutalized and detained, spoke to state house correspondents after his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari over the repeated killings in various communities across the country.
The IGP’s response to a direct question was a bit off when he was asked if their arrest was linked to an opinion article that was critical of his professional and private life. “Anyway I don’t need to send anybody but whenever you commit an offence it is our duty to ensure that we respond,” he said.
Daniel, had detailed how Operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) stormed their family compound in a gestapo manner in Nnewi, Anambra State on New Year’ Day and arrested them and some other family members without any explanations for the offensive.
Daniel and Tim were immediately transferred to another special police unit out of the office of the IGP and taken to Abuja that day. The others were released and allowed to return home. After sustained pressure on the IGP by the online press, Daniel was released same night but Tim remains in detention.
The website filed a suit on Thursday to challenge their arrest and restore Tim’s freedom.
The Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, OPAN, Nigeria’s premier association of digital/new media publishers, in a statement described their arrest “As part of a sustained plot by the Buhari administration to intimidate and suppress press freedom.”