Nigerian secret police arrest online journalist

Three operatives of the State Security Service, Nigeria’s secret police, on September 6 arrested Emenike Iroegbu, who runs the news website Abia Facts, from his home in Uyo, the capital of the southern state of Akwa Ibom, on suspicion of libelling the governor of neighboring Abia state, according to news reports. The operatives searched Iroegbu’s house and took away his laptops, his phones, and his wife’s phones, the reports said. The SSS released him the following day, and returned all items confiscated in the arrest, according to press reports.

Following his release, Iroegbu told CPJ the officers hooded him, put him in handcuffs and leg irons, and interrogated him at the state SSS office for eight hours. Investigators questioned him about screenshots from a website purporting to be Abia Facts, and from a Facebook page falsely claiming to be Abia Facts’ page on the social media site, the journalist told Nigeria’s Premium Times.

Iroegbu told CPJ that unknown individuals had attempted to hack his website before, and referred CPJ to Abia Facts’ Facebook page and to another Facebook page similarly named Abia Facts he said was cloned to deceive the public. Iroegbu said he plans to send a complaint to Facebook, asking them to pull down the cloned Facebook page.