The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has called for the release of Mr Mathew Omonigho, a journalist working with Daily Post newspapers who was arrested by the police in Delta.
MURIC Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, made the call in a statement in Lagos on Friday.
“The Inspector General of Police Squad on May 26, arrested Delta Correspondent of Daily Post, at the premises of Nigeria Union of Journalists, Warri Correspondents’ Chapel.
“Three other journalists who came in solidarity with him were arrested and later released.
“The arrest of Omonigho allegedly for having the telephone number of a suspect is not only laughable but also illegal, unlawful, illegitimate and unconstitutional.
“The search of his telephone is a breach of his privacy. It is a contravention of Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Section 37 says that the privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications is guaranteed and protected,” he said.
He added that article 12 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Nigeria was a signatory stipulated respect for that the right of every individual to privacy, family and correspondence.
“We remind the I-G Squad of Section 23 of the Police Act which stipulates that suspects cannot be detained beyond 24 hours after which the person should be charged to court.
“This is in conformity with the basic constitutional rights of citizens.
“The I-G Squad should note that Article 7(b) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights stipulates the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court or tribunal,” he said.
He added that democracy cannot thrive where freedom of the press was not guaranteed.
“We call for his immediate and unconditional release or arraignment before a court of competent jurisdiction.
“We charge the police and other security agencies to desist from constant intimidation and harassment of members of the press,” he added.