RE: NUJ CONDEMNS THE UNLAWFUL ARREST, TRIAL AND DETENTION OF MARY EKERE: DEMANDS HER IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE:
The attention of the Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency has been drawn to the misinformation currently circulating in the public media that a female journalist by name Mary Ekere was unlawfully arrested and detained for taking photographs by the enforcement officers/inspectors of the Agency while on their official duties along Eka Street by Ikot-Ekpene road, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State Capital.
TO PUT THE RECORDS STRAIGHT:
On the 16TH day of September, 2019 the enforcement officers/inspectors of the Agency while on their official duties along Eka Street by Ikot-Ekpene road came across some street traders and in a bid to enforce PART 11 Section 6 (O), PART VII Section 9 (H) of the Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection & Waste Management Agency Law, Cap 47, 2000; valid orders of the Court made on the 13TH day of June, 2019 and the resolution of the State House of Assembly on the 22ND day of March, 2016 on the “MENACE OF ROADSIDE TRADING IN AKWA IBOM STATE”, were obstructed by some hoodlums and defaulters.
That while on this process, a lady who later identified herself in the court as Mary Ekere was spotted in the midst of the defaulters taking pictures and recording the exercise; on asking who she was by the enforcement team, she became hostile and abusive which gave hoodlums and defaulters the advantage to pounce on the team, obstructing and assaulting them in the process.
Thereafter, the said Mary and one of the hoodlums by name Gideon Mathew were arrested and charged to court for obstruction and assault which is an offense punishable under PART VIII, Section 41 of the Akwa State Environmental Protection & Waste Management Agency Law, Cap 47, 2000.
Incidentally, the said Gideon Mathew pleaded “guilty” and was convicted while Mary pleaded “not guilty”. However, Mary was granted bail but because the bail condition was not perfected, was remanded in prison custody and upon the perfection of the bail aforesaid, she was released from prison before the intervention of the Attorney General of the State.
However, it is worthy of note that in the morning of Tuesday 17th day of September, 2019 the Akwa Ibom State Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ), Comrade Amos Etuk on a telephone, informed Hon Prince Ikim, the Board Chairman that a certain Journalist by name Mary Ekere was arrested and detained by the Agency. On this, the Board Chairman replied that the Agency has no detention facilities. Nevertheless, the Board Chairman in collaboration with the NUJ Chairman made frantic effort to release the said Mary by calling the Agency’s prosecutor who informed the duo that she will be brought to court later that day, being Tuesday and after taking her plea, the case will be adjourned to Thursday the 19th day of September, 2019 for report of settlement. THE ABOVE IS THE TRUE STORY OF WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE WITHOUT BIAS.
The Chairman and the entire Board members are piqued by the news making rounds in some media channels that;
a. The wife of the Akwa Ibom State governor jailed Akwa Ibom helpless
female Journalist for taking photographs.
b. The enforcement team of the Agency arrested and prosecuted journalist
for doing her job.
c. The enforcement team of the Agency beat mercilessly and
stripped a female journalist naked.
d. Mary Ekere was released on Bail but Hon. Prince Ikim gave an order for
her to be remanded in the prison custody.
e. A journalist was wrongly detained by overzealous officials of the Agency.
f. Mary Ekere was arrested at Aka road when she was actually arrested at
The questions begging for answers are; does the said Mary Ekere enjoy immunity under Section 308 (2) (3) of the CFRN 1999 as amended? Did the co-accused not plead guilty? Is the said Mary Ekere above the law? The answers to these questions are obvious.
The Agency hereby advises the general public to discountenance the various malicious and false publications in respect of this matter currently trending in the media as same is only intended to malign and discredit the hard earned reputation and integrity of the State Government and its Agency. It is the resolve of the Agency that, no form of campaigns of calumny in the media or intimidation will hinder her officers from carrying out her statutory responsibilities in keeping Akwa Ibom State clean, green and beautiful. However, we shall continue to partner with the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State council in our services to the State.