The Gombe state chapter of the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP) has strongly condemned the arrest and 24-hour incarceration of Yakubu Halliru, an on-air personality with Jewel FM Gombe, as well as the continuous detention of Malam Ahmed Mandi, a member of the party and a strong supporter of the gubernatorial candidate, by security agents acting according to a script written by the Inuwa Yahaya-led government.
This was stated by the party’s State Publicity Secretary, Muhammad Kabir Makko, in a statement issued on Thursday in Gombe.
He said the arrest of Yakubu Halliru is especially concerning because he was simply doing his job as a journalist by anchoring a programme in which an invited guest made presentations based on his self-recognition, a responsibility he never shied away from.
He said: “The state government cannot claim ignorance of an almost unspoken rule that indemnifies on-air anchors for guest opinions, especially since NBC has not flagged the station for any violations.
“The state government’s actions amount to a crude form of press gagging, which the NNPP condemns as obnoxious, condemnable, and totally unacceptable.
“The party also condemns Malam Mandi’s continued incarceration, which has been used as an excuse by trigger-happy security agents to detain an innocent journalist.
“It must be said that if the Gombe state Government had followed due process in the award of the white Elephant project, the cost of which was used as an excuse to lock up two innocent citizens, there would have been no need for anyone to quote bogus numbers because the total contract sum would have been public knowledge, making any attempt to inflate it a case of calculated mischief.
“You don’t shroud public expenditure in secrecy and expect the masses not to plug the gap of silence with whatever they can lay their hands on.
“Even though constructing the perimeter fence represents the very height of misplaced priority, our Party is well aware that the people of Gombe are still very much interested in knowing the full contract sum and it is only right for the state government to make these numbers available and desist from further harassment of anyone trying to call them to account.”
The party urged the Gombe state Commissioner of Police to release Yakubu Halliru and Malam Ahmed Mandi immediately or charge them in court, emphasising that their incarceration had exceeded the legally accepted police custody period.