Journalist and activist Ahmad Salkida has launched a campaign for a proof of life video for detained journalist and publisher Mr. Jones Abiri. Next week will make it two years that he has been held in pre-trial detention by the Department of State Services (DSS). According to a statement from the DSS, Abiri was arrested for leading a militant group with separatist inclinations; a position that has been refuted by the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The government has failed to arraign him in court while he has been denied access to his lawyers and family. Salkida in a series of tweets a few days ago asked the federal government to arraign Abiri in court if there’s concrete proof that he is a militant, rather than detaining him and keeping him incommunicado which is against extant laws of the country. Salkida tagged his detention as an act of impunity by the Buhari Presidency and advised the government to respect the rule of law.
The campaign which has caught the attention of other Twitter users is important to confirm the rumour that Abiri has died in DSS custody. As much as Jones Abiri is not the only Nigerian held in pre-trial detention, it is important that the federal government respects the rule of law in its action. It is disappointing that an administration which parades an array of lawyers most especially the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who is a Professor of Law and Senior Advocate of Nigerian has become notorious for holding Nigerians incommunicado in a pretrial mode. Those granted bail by courts have not been released while the government continues to parade itself as a government of “integrity”.
The actions of the Buhari administration is against human right laws and the federal government should either release Abiri or arraign him before the court.