Ensure Safe Return of Kidnapped Journalist – Africa Media Watch Appeal to Nigerian Police

By Alex Uangbaoje, Kaduna

The press freedom arm of Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF), AFRICA MEDIA WATCH, has called on the Nigerian Police Force to do all it can within its power to ensure the safe return of kidnapped Nigerian Journalist, Friday Okeregbe to his family and take more steps to protect all journalists from all forms of attacks and harassments.

Africa Media Watch, in statement on Wednesday, signed it’s project officer, Joy Gadani, said information available to them showed that the Abuja-based reporter of Channels Television, Mr. Okeregbe, was kidnapped by unidentified persons on Friday 22ndMarch 2019 on his way back from an automobile mechanic workshop along the Games Village in Abuja, the Nation’s capital.

The statement said, although the police and Channels Television, where Mr Okeregbe is working have not issued any statement to that effect, however, Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja Council, Mr. Emmanuel Ogbeche, confirmed the incidence in a chat with AFRICA MEDIA WATCH, adding that the Council so far, has not established the motive behind the kidnap of their colleague.

The statement quoted the NUJ Chairman as saying, “i visited the house of the kidnapped journalist and met the wife who confirmed that the kidnappers called the family and made a demand of 50million naira ransom.”

According to Africa Nedia Watch, “cases of kidnap for ransom has risen in Nigeria in the last three years, especially along Abuja – Kaduna Express Way, where kidnappers collect millions of naira from families before release of victims.

“A private legal practioner, Emmanuel Avong, opined that the prevalence of kidnapping in Nigeria was occasioned by widespread poverty, job losses and unemployment, adding that “it is further encouraged by insecurity and the inability of the security forces, especially the police to curb such crimes”

“Currently, only four Nigerian States comprising of Kaduna, Lagos, Imo and Ondo have anti kidnap laws. An attempt was made at the National Assembly in 2018 for a 30-year imprisonment term, but the bill was not passed into law.

“Needless to say, it is lucrative for those involved in the act.”

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