Press freedom under threat: Police detain journalist covering raid on Abuja forex traders

The anti-violence crime unit of the Nigerian Police Force has arrested Kasarachi Aniagolu, a journalist with the Abuja-based Whistler Newspaper.

In a statement on Wednesday, the management of the newspaper said Miss Aniagolu was arrested while covering a police raid on bureau de change operators in the Wuse Zone 4 area of Abuja.

The newspaper’s management said the journalist, despite identifying herself as a reporter, was assaulted and threatened, adding that her gadgets were also seized by the security operatives.

The reporter was arrested alongside 95 forex traders and is currently in police custody.

The newspaper condemned the disregard for press freedom by the police and demanded the immediate release of its reporter.

“The Whistler Newspapers strongly condemn in strongest terms, the unlawful arrest, assault, and ongoing detention of our reporter, Kasarahchi Aniagolu, by officers of the Nigerian Police Force operating within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),” the statement reads.

“Ms. Aniagolu was performing her journalistic duties while filming a raid on Bureau de Change (BDC) operators in Wuse Zone 4 on Wednesday, February 21, 2024.

“Despite clearly identifying herself as a journalist, she was manhandled and threatened, and her equipment was confiscated. She is currently being held at the anti-violence crime unit (former SARS office) in Guzape.

“We are deeply disturbed by the complete disregard for press freedom by the Nigerian Police Force and the blatant violation of Ms. Aniagolu’s fundamental rights. The physical assault and threats to her life are utterly unacceptable and a direct attack on independent journalism.

“Furthermore, the conflicting statements regarding the operation from the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) headquarters and the FCT Police Command raise serious concerns about accountability and transparency.

“The respective authorities’ blatant denial of the operation further highlights the need for a thorough investigation into this undemocratic incident.

“The Whistler demands the immediate and unconditional release of Ms. Anaigolu and an unreserved apology from the leadership of The Nigeria Police Force.

“We call for a swift and transparent investigation into her unlawful arrest, assault, and detention. Those responsible for these actions must also be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

“We urge all relevant authorities to uphold the fundamental rights of journalists and ensure their safety and freedom to report without fear or intimidation.”

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