A group of New York-based journalists operating under the umbrella of Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called for the immediately
and unconditionally release of blogger, Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo and newspaper publisher, Samuel Welson.
In a statement signed and issued on Friday by CPJ West Africa representative, Peter Nkanga, the group urged the police to release the duo, and to cease prosecuting journalists on charges of defamation or publishing false news.
It can be recalled that Kemi Olunloyo, a controversial US trained journalist announced that she was arrested in Ibadan and driven more than 600 kilometers to Port Harcourt Prison for allegedly defaming the General Overseer of Salvation Ministries, Pastor David Ibiyeomie.
Nkanga noted that the controversial Instagram post that was published on Olunloyo’s handle and on Samuel Welson’s daily regional tabloid had already been withdrawn from further public circulation.
He also said that there was documentary evidence to show that when Olunloyo published the letter, she indicated that neither Pastor David Ibiyeomie nor actress Iyabo Ojo responded to her request for comment
In condemning the continued detention of the two journalists in maximum security prison in Port-Harcourt, Nkanga said that defamation allegations should remain civil matter and not treated like a criminal offence that would warrant detention in prison.
The statement reads in part: “We call on Nigerian authorities to release Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo and Samuel Welson without condition or charge, and to cease prosecuting journalists on charges of defamation or publishing false news.
“Defamation allegations should never be a criminal matter.
“Besides, the controversial post has since been removed from Olunloyo’s Instagram.
“Again, a legal document CPJ has reviewed indicates that when she published the letter, Omololu-Olunloyo wrote that neither the pastor nor the woman had responded to her request for comment.”