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For Immediate Release
7 May 1997

Contact:
Kakuna Kerina
212-465-1004 (x-103)
Judith Leynse
(212)465-1004 (x-105)

Nigerian Journalist Ladi Olorunyomi Is Released from Jail

New York, N.Y., May 7, 1997 -- Ladi Olorunyomi, a Nigerian journalist who has worked for the Concord and the Herald newspapers, was released yesterday from the Lagos prison where she had been held without charge since March 20, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has learned. CPJ’s Africa program coordinator Kakuna Kerina spearheaded the campaign for her release in collaboration with other international organizations.

Mrs. Olorunyomi is the wife of exiled Nigerian journalist Dapo Olorunyomi, who was brought safely to asylum in the United States by the joint effort of CPJ and Amnesty International in December 1995, just days after the bombing of his office. Mr. Olorunyomi was editor of Independent Communications Network’s TheNEWS and Tempo news magazines.

“The government finally gave in to the pressure brought to bear by CPJ and others,” said Mr. Olorunyomi from Washington, where he is a fellow at the Panos Institute. “This shows that campaigns really work. I am profoundly grateful for the help given to my wife and to me by CPJ.”

Mrs. Olorunyomi was arrested on the night of March 20 at her home in Lagos by military intelligence and army officers. They did not remove anything from the premises and gave no reason for her arrest. She was taken to a holding facility in Apapa, where she was detained incommunicado.

CPJ, in conjunction with Amnesty International and Reporteurs sans Frontiers, sought her release. A March 21 letter from CPJ’s executive director, William A. Orme, Jr., to Nigeria’s ruling leader General Sani Abacha calling for her unconditional release strongly protested her arrest “as a grave and blatant attack on press freedom, journalists, and their families” and a violation of journalists’ rights worldwide as guaranteed by Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international covenants and codes.

“We are relieved that Ladi Olorunyomi has been released from her wrongful, unwarranted detention and that she can return home to comfort her two young children,” said Ms. Kerina. “Regrettably, military intelligence is subjecting her to continued injustice by requiring her to report twice weekly to the facility where she was held.”

Reuters reported today that another journalist, Godwin Agbroko, editor of The Week magazine, who had been detained since December because of reports published by his magazine about disagreements within the ruling military government, was also released.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that documents and protests violations of press freedom worldwide, reported in its book Attacks on the Press in 1996 that eight journalists were imprisoned in Nigeria at the end of the year. Four of them have been held since 1995. CPJ is funded entirely by private donations from journalists, news organizations, and foundations; it does not accept government support.


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