If you are a blogger that writes on issues concerning governance in Nigeria, watch out, you could get arrested and interrogated for days, incommunicado, by the state security service (SSS) of Nigeria, as its being demonstrated in the case of Jonathan Elendu, the independent publisher of Elendu Reports. According to Nigerian law, anyone arrested must be charged in court within 48 hours. That holding period has expired for Elendu since the story broke on Wednesday, October 20.
While it is not unusual in Nigeria for security agencies to hold ‘suspects’ at will, without paying attention to rule of law, it is despicable that Nigerians are seeing an increasing number of human rights violation and disregard for rule of law under President Yar’Adua’s tenure, a man that wants to be remembered as an advocate and believer of rule of law.
Elendu, from what has been reported, is been held for national security reasons. What this means is really anybody’s guess, since the ‘suspect’ is based in Michigan USA, and apparently only concerned with publishing controversial articles about Nigerian politicians and bureaucrats.
Is Elendu involved in secret endeavors that could potentially undermine national security? It is possible, and this will be a revelation the SSS can best disclose. And the whole world is waiting.
Nigerians are tired and irritated by the Yar’Adua’s administration, whose agenda has remained one of the most guided secrets in national history. Now, it is appearing that a focus of that agenda is clamping down on unfavorable media outlets. Elendu’s arrest follows the closure of Channels TV, another independent media outlet based in Lagos, that was sealed off for suggesting the president might resign from office because of health concerns. Who’s next on the waiting list?
What I can’t fathom is why an administration that speaks some much about attracting foreign investments, and has a negative publicity over the Niger-Delta insurgency, would go ahead under the banner of national security and create additional negative media coverage? It does not make sense. If the government is really concerned about national security, then it is looking in the wrong place. Jonathan Elendu is a small fry, I hope.
Update on Elendu’s Arrest, via Sahara Reporters:
In a desperate attempt to justify the weeklong unlawful detention of Nigerian online blogger, Jonathan Elendu, state security services (SSS) officials last night in Abuja quietly transferred him to the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Apparently stung by public condemnation of its handling of the case and also for reasons that their lawyers said were unsustainable charges of sedition, the SSS decided to hand Elendu over to the EFCC so as to keep him detained but incommunicado until Monday