Sikpi, publisher of the tabloid Weekly Star in the southern city of Port Harcourt, was arrested by agents of the State Security Service (SSS) over an article in the previous week’s edition that accused a local official of money laundering, the paper’s editor, Obinna Ahiaidu, told CPJ.
Sikpi was arrested along with four printing press staff as the Weekly Star was going to press, according to Ahiaidu. The four were released the same day, but Sikpi was held at the SSS office in Port Harcourt. He was later transferred to the city’s central prison. Security agents who raided the newspaper’s premises also impounded its 4,000-copy print run.
On October 17, Sikpi was brought before Port Harcourt High Court and charged with several counts of publishing false information, according to international news reports and a CPJ source. He was denied bail.
Sikpi was charged in relation to an article that accused the state governor of involvement in money laundering. He was also charged over articles published in May and June relating to separatist militia in the oil-rich Niger delta and the presence of former Liberian president Charles Taylor in Nigeria.