Nigeria: Blogger detained incommunicado

English PEN protests the detention of the US-based blogger Jonathan Elendu, who has been held incommunicado without charge in Abuja since 17 October 2008. There are fears for his health following reports of ill treatment.

 

Jonathan Elendu, a US-based Nigerian news blogger for Elendureports.com, was arrested by the State Security Service (SSS) on his arrival in Abuja for a family visit on 17 October. It is understood that he has not yet been charged, in contravention of Nigerian law which stipulates that anyone arrested must be charged in court within 48 hours. He has also been denied access to legal and medical assistance.

 

Initially investigated for “money laundering”, Elendu was then reportedly accused of unspecified “acts of sedition”. He has now apparently been transferred from SSS custody to that of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which may suggest that he still faces a charge of money laundering or corruption.

 

Some reports suggest that Elendu has been ill treated and his health is in jeopardy. On 28 October, the Nigeria’s Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) stated that Elendu had been “tortured to disclose the sources of the several embarrassing news reports on prominent political leaders in Nigeria” and had gone on hunger strike.

 

English PEN believes that Elendu has been detained for his critical reporting on Nigeria. As such, we are calling on the Nigerian authorities either to charge Elendu with a recognisable criminal offense or to release him immediately and unconditionally.

 

Background:

 

Elendureports.com, set up by Elendu in Michigan state, USA, in 2005, is one of a number of diaspora-run websites on Nigeria that publish frequently controversial stories about Nigerian politicians, corruption, the situation in the conflict area of the Niger Delta, and other subjects which are sensitive in Nigeria. The site’s articles are reportedly often based on anonymous sources. During the 2007 Nigerian election campaign, Elendureports.com erroneously reported that President Umaru Yar’Adua had died during a medical trip to Germany.

 

Elendu is also accused of writing for another US-based Nigerian news website, Saharareporters.com, which the Nigerian authorities have reportedly described as “guerrilla journalism”. Saharareporters.com has reportedly denied that Elendu works for them.

 

Links:

 

BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7686119.stm
Reporters Sans Frontieres: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=29052
Allafrica.com (reference to HURIWA): http://allafrica.com/stories/200810271025.html
Elendureports.com : http://www.elendureports.com/

 

Please send appeals:


• Protesting the incommunicado detention without charge of US-based Nigerian blogger Jonathan Elendu since 17 October 2008, which we consider to be in violation of his right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is party;
• Calling on the Nigerian authorities either to charge Elendu with a recognisable criminal offense and release him on bail pending trial, or to release him immediately and unconditionally;
• Asking the authorities to ensure that while Elendu is not ill treated or tortured while he remains in detention, and that he receives access to adequate legal and medical assistance.

 

Appeals to:

 

Vice-President
Goodluck Jonathan
Office of the Vice-President
The Presidency, State House, Abuja, Nigeria
Fax: 234-9-2341733/ 234 9 314 8793
Salutation: Your Excellency

 

You may wish to send your appeal letters via the Nigerian diplomatic representative in the UK:

 

His Excellency Dr. Dalhatu Sarki 
Nigeria High Commission
Nigeria House
9 Northumberland Avenue
London.
WC2N 5BX

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/nigeriabloggerdetainedincommunicado/

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