Bayelsa based journalist, Jones Abiri, has finally taken the breathe of freedom two years after his incarceration in the detention facility of Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Service (DSS)
Abiri, standing trial over alleged involvement in militancy, returned to the warm embrace of his wife, children and colleagues, Tuesday in Yenagoa.
Abiri, who was given a hero’s welcome, was received by his colleagues at the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre.
The journalist was arrested by the DSS since July 2016 and detained for over two years without trial. However, following protests and demands by the media, civil society groups and concerned individuals, for his arraignment or unconditional release, Abiri was arraigned before a Magistrates’ Court this month and subsequently, granted bail.
He was given a welcome reception in Yenagoa, where he pointed out that, contrary to the views held by the DSS, he was ready to face trial and prove his innocence.
[penci_blockquote style=”style-2″ align=”none” author=””]“Our position has always been that he should be presented in court. Now that the matter is in court, the judiciary should be allowed to determine if he is guilty or not.[/penci_blockquote]
Abiri, a law student before his incarceration, applauded the civil rights community, media and public-spirited individuals, who fought for his release from DSS custody.
He expressed his gratitude to the Bayelsa State Council of the NUJ for the warm reception accorded him and the support given by the union during his incarceration.
Niger Delta Rights Activist, Ms. Annkio Briggs, in a goodwill message, stated that it took the intervention of Amnesty International to draw public attention to the abuse of Abiri’s human rights.
“I only became aware of the ungodly and evil breach of Abiri’s fundamental and professional rights after Amnesty International raised the matter.
[penci_related_posts taxonomies=”undefined” title=”Online Related Posts” background=”” border=”” thumbright=”no” number=”4″ style=”grid” align=”none” displayby=”recent_posts” orderby=”random”]
“I am proud of you and I am so happy that you are back home to your family, people and region. From here on, you will never walk alone,” Briggs said.
Chairman of the Bayelsa State Council of the NUJ, Mr. John Angese, affirmed that Abiri was a member of the NUJ and discredited earlier reports that Abiri was not on the NUJ register.
“Let me state that Jones Abiri is one of us here in Bayelsa. We cannot deny him because of the allegations leveled against him.
“Our position has always been that he should be presented in court. Now that the matter is in court, the judiciary should be allowed to determine if he is guilty or not.
“We appeal to our colleagues to be cautious in reportage of this reception and avoid comments that will jeopardise the trial,” Angese said.
Abiri’s sister, Mrs. Philomena Kenere, who gave a vote of thanks said their family was delighted to have Abiri re-uniting with them.
She expressed appreciation to everyone, who supported the family during Abiri’s absence.