Television presenter rearrested, charged with sedition

New York, June 26, 2006—State security agents arrested a presenter for Nigeria’s leading private television station today for the second time in two weeks and announced sedition charges against him, a manager at African Independent Television (AIT) told the Committee to Protect Journalists. The executive chairman of AIT’s parent company, Raymond Dokpesi, confirmed the detention of presenter Mike Gbenga Aruleba and the charge against him.

Aruleba is in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS) in the capital, Abuja, according to the general manager of AIT’s Abuja bureau, Mac Amarere. Aruleba is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.

The charge stems from the June 13 broadcast of Aruleba’s daily talk show, “Focus Nigeria,” in which he referred critically to President Olusegun Obasanjo’s official jet, according to Amarere. A transcript with the precise remark was not immediately available. The show featured three guests, including a ruling party member of the National Assembly, who spoke about the presidential election due to take place next year.

On June 14, SSS agents detained Aruleba overnight and asked the station to turn over the tape of the broadcast. Aruleba was rearrested today when he reported to a scheduled meeting with SSS agents, Amarere said.

“It’s outrageous that political commentary would result in a journalist being thrown in jail,” said Ann Cooper, executive director of CPJ. “The State Security Service’s treatment of our colleague is appalling, and Mike Gbenga Aruleba should be released immediately.”