The Media Rights Agenda (MRA), the civil society group promoting the protecting of rights of journalists, on Friday joined concerned Nigerians to condemn the kidnap of The Punch newspaper Abuja correspondent, Okechukwu Nnodim, on February 3.
Mr Nnodim, a finance and economy correspondent in the Abuja Bureau of the newspaper was kidnapped by unknown gun men who stormed his residence in Kubwa area of the Federal Capital Territory on Wednesday night.
His captors went away into the hills with him and the two sons of a widow in a neighbouring compound along the Arab Road area of Kubwa in the outskirts of Abuja
The MRA in a statement on Friday called on the Federal Government and operatives of the security agencies to take urgent action to locate and immediately free Mr Nnodim and the other victims from their abductors.
Condemning the kidnap, MRA Programme Director, Ayode Longe, said although the reasons for the abduction of Mr. Nnodim and the two others by the gunmen were still unknown, as law abiding citizens and under the jurisdiction of Nigeria, the government, its law enforcement and security agencies have a duty to investigate the crime and bring perpetrators to justice.
“Security and law enforcement agencies in Nigeria need to wake up from their slumber as the level of insecurity of lives and property of Nigerians, and other residents in the country has now reached unacceptable proportions and those responsible for ensuring their security appears unable to rise to the occasion,” Mr. Longe said.
He said: “In the last few years, journalists have been kidnapped in their homes, on their way to work or from work with no effective response from the law enforcement and security agencies, with most people consumed by the fear that it is likely to be their turn at any time and feeling helpless to do anything about the situation.”
Long list of victims
In 2020, Mr. Longe said the MRA documented several cases of journalists kidnapped either from their homes, or while returning from work, including Maxwell Nashian, a journalist with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), who was kidnapped from his home in Adamawa state in January 2020 and later died in the hospital after his release.
The other victims include Chinenye Iwuoha, another journalist with the FRCN who was kidnapped in Umuahia, Abia state capital on May 6, 2020 while returning from work.
The list also included Mienpamo Saint, a news blogger and owner of Naijalivetv.com, who was abducted on May 9, 2020 from his home at INEC Road in Kpansia, a suburb of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State by masked gunmen; Chinyere Okoye, an Assistant Manager of News and Current Affairs at the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Channel 6 Aba, who was abducted by unknown gunmen in front of her house at Obikabia Road in Aba, Abia State on May 27, 2020, on her ways back from the office.
Mr. Longe said incidents of kidnapping of journalists and other citizens have become too rampant, and a real cause of concern for Nigerians requiring urgent and concerted action.
He reminded the government that it has a duty to ensure the safety of lives and property of Nigerians, stressing that it must not shirk that responsibility as it derives its legitimacy from them.