Publisher charged, harassed

April 12, 2006
Posted: April 17, 2006

Alfred Egbegi, Izon Link


Police detained Egbegi, publisher of the weekly tabloid newspaper Izon Link, in Yenagoa, the capital of southern Bayelsa State. Egbegi was released on bail after several hours in custody. The following day, he appeared before a Yenagoa magistrate, who charged him with eight counts of “conducting himself in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace,” according to local journalists and the Lagos-based press freedom organization Media Rights Agenda (MRA).

The arrest and charges stemmed from an article published in that week’s edition of Izon Link which detailed political tension between Jonathan Goodluck, Bayelsa State Governor, and Goodluck’s deputy, Peremowei Ebebi, over who would run for governor in elections scheduled for 2007.

Following the publication of the article, Egbegi reported receiving threats from anonymous callers and state government officials. When police were unable to locate the publisher, who had gone into hiding, on April 12, they arrested Izon Link’s printer and a secretary working for the newspaper. Both were released the same day without charge.

Deputy Governor Ebebi’s press secretary, Charles Tambou, initially denied that the state government was planning to arrest Egbegi. On April 13, however, Tambou released a statement warning that “the era when the press is treated with kid gloves is over, as the law will be made to take its course,” according to MRA.

The press secretary also denied that there was any rift between the governor and his deputy, alleging that political opponents were behind the story, MRA reported.