Editorial Team

Emmanuel Udom-Managing Editor, Stephen Dijo Philemon-Deputy Editor, Janet Udom-Senior Correspondent, Precious Udom-Senior Correspondent, Williams Ita-Bureau Chief(Akwa Ibom/Cross River), Fabian Idoko-Senior Correspondent
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    Tuesday, 1 September 2015

    Cameroon Accuses Lagos-based Journalist of Spying for Boko Haram


     By  Emmanuel Udom

    Lagos

     A Lagos-based journalist, Simon Ateba has been arrested at the Minawao Internally displaced refugee camp in Cameroon and taken to Makolo in the far north of the country, on the allegation that he was a hired spy for the Boko Haram sect.

     Friends and Associates of Ateba, who incidentally is a citizen of Cameroon, told journalists at the International Press Center in Ogba, Lagos on Tuesday that the journalist was arrested during security checks carried out by the Cameroonian military authority, at the IDPs camp in Makolo, where 5,000 Nigerians are kept.

    According to  Ayodele Samuel Ojebola and  Matthew Opeoluwa, Co-coordinators, Friends and Associates of Simon Ateba, the journalist was in Cameroon on a reporting mission funded by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, to conduct investigations into plights of Nigerians displaced by Boko Haram.

     Without getting official approval from the Cameroonian authority, Ateba entered the IDP camp alongside other 5,000 Nigerians and was arrested and accused of spying for the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency group.

     “Since then, Simon Ateba has been denied access to food, water and medication to treat a feverish condition that had developed after he was drenched by rain, also his whereabouts cannot be ascertained in Cameroon”, the duo said.

     The coordinators said that the Cameroonian military is known for being hostile to Journalists, even local journalists in the country had complained of the army hostility.

     Their words: It is a gross shame that despite per minute’s condemnation of this mindless detention by various organizations in both social and traditional media, the Cameroonian government has refuse to free Simon.

     We consider the Cameroonian army action as a case of arbitrary arrest and detention, because the army lacks likelihood and evidence that he committed the crime he was accused of, the shameful action also has no proper due process of law.

     Article 9 of UN universal declaration of human right which stipulates that: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile, the Cameroonian government should respect this and also honour Press freedom at this moment.

     Considering the contributions and sacrifices of journalists, local, international and social media savvy citizens have made towards the fight against Boko Haram insurgency in Sub Saharan Africa.

     We demand the immediate release of the journalist within 24 hours; hence we will commence a mass action and litigation against the Cameroonian government and its military authorities using every tool at our disposal.

     We also call on the Commander of the Joint Military Taskforce to immediately setup a probe panel into the unlawful detention of this harmless journalist.

     However, reports reaching www.vicnuel.blogspot.com have it that Ateba have just been released. have not spoken to him but we believe he is well. Thank you to all individuals and groups in Nigeria and Cameroon for their seen and unseen efforts to bring about his freedom. God bless you all.
    Many lessons learnt form this. For me, one of them is about the responsibility of media houses and editors to reporters covering dangerous assignments. Also, the enormous potential of the new and social media to bring about change.
    Above all is the power of the collective voice of a group. Now we know that if any of us is harassed we can unite and fight together. #‎SimonAtebaIsFreeAtLast

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