Owukpa coal controversy: Idoma League of Editors calls for immediate release of Okwori Onaji

July 30, 2020
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The Idoma League of Editors, ILE, has strongly condemned in its entirety the arrest of an activist, Okwori Onaji, for allegedly organizing a press conference to question the activities of miners in Owukpa, a suburb of Ogbadibo LGA of Benue State.

Onaji was arrested on Wednesday in Owukpa during a press conference to bring to the world’s attention the environmental degradation caused by the activities of miners in Owukpa.

Some leaders of the Owukpa Development Association who were not happy with his decision, invited the police to arrest him and other agitators.

The League said it views the arrest of the lead protester, Onaji as illegal and against his fundamental human.

ILE, in a statement by its Secretary, Yemi Itodo, said findings have shown that relevant security agencies were rightly briefed and informed before the press conference was organized.

He said, “Those who illegally masterminded the arrest of Onaji claimed he was with AK-47 but failed to provide the picture of the weapon, the protest banners and the contents therein, as well as the destructions caused by the said protest.”

ILE described their action as unconstitutional and a breach of fundamental human rights.

“This body strongly warns elders and leaders trying to gag the press from reporting the environmental degradation resulting from the mining activities in Owukpa to desist as the fourth estate of the realm cannot be canned by any selfish group or individuals.”

The body, therefore, called for immediate and unconditional release of Onaji and those arrested with him during the press conference.

It said the those behind the arrest and detention should tender unreserved apology to the victims.

The statement further called on the Inspector General of Police, the Benue State Commissioner of Police and the Chief Security officer of the state, His Excellency, Governor Samuel Ortom to call the Orokam Division of the Force to wade Into matter.

“Owukpa and by extension, Idoma land belong to every son and daughter of the land and as such every citizen can demand for accountability over the natural resources endowed on the land,” he added.

It further advised the those behind his arrest not to be too afraid of the press if they can actually come clean with an explanation on what is happening in the community.

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