Media rights groups on Tuesday condemned the detention by police of Nigerian journalists who refused to disclose their source for a disputed story about the president.
Police on Monday detained and interrogated four journalists from the independent Leadership newspaper.
They have since been released from custody, but ordered to report to police headquarters in the capital Abuja every morning, the company’s Managing Director Azubuike Ishikwene told AFP.
“This is unacceptable to us. We will decide whether or not they will report at the police headquarters tomorrow (today),” Ishikwene said.
Earlier Tuesday, he charged that two of his staff, Tony Amokeodo and Chibuzor Ukaibe, had been held incommunicado for more than 24 hours.
The two other journalists questioned in the case were Chinyere Fred-Adebulugbe and Chuks Ohuegbe, who were released late Monday.
“If the president feels offended by an article, he has a number of ways to respond other than launching a harassment campaign,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement on Tuesday.
On April 3, Leadership published a document it claimed was drafted in President Goodluck Jonathan’s office that calls for sabotaging an opposition coalition which has weighed fronting a unity candidate for 2015 presidential polls.
Jonathan’s spokesman swiftly dismissed the document as a forgery and police have confirmed that an investigation has been launched into the origins of the report.
According to Leadership, police demanded to know the source of the document, which the reporters refused to disclose.
The police were not immediately available to comment on Tuesday.
Media Rights Agenda, a local press freedom group, called on Nigeria “to put a leash on its rampaging law enforcement agents.”
The government “has nothing to gain but everything to lose by projecting to the international community and its citizens an image of a lawless government which muzzles the media,” the group further said.