THE FCT chapter of the Socialist Part of Nigeria (SPN) has called for an independent probe into the inexplicable disappearance of Mr Tordue Salem, the reporter covering the House of Representatives for the Vanguard Newspapers until his sudden disappearance recently.

The SPN is also demanding to be included in the probe other “tyrannical harassments and abductions” which it pointed out are threats to free speech.

The independent probe, the SPN said should be composed of representatives from bodies like the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Nigerian Guild of Editors, free speech civil society organisations, pro-labour organisations and human rights lawyers.

In a statement by its FCT chairperson, Mr Dimeji Macaulay, the SPN condemned the state of insecurity which it said “has led to the killing, kidnapping and disappearance of many hapless Nigerians.”

The Vanguard reporter was last seen while on his way to work on October 13, 2021. His car was reportedly found parked at the National Assembly Complex, a situation SPN found curious as the complex is one of the most heavily guarded areas in Abuja.

SPN said although journalists under the aegis of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), FCT chapter, had on October 25, 2021, led a protest to the Police Headquarters in Abuja over Mr Salem’s mysterious disappearance, no useful response has so far been received from the police on his whereabouts.

Mr Macaulay noted that the disappearance of the journalist may have been politically motivated against the backdrop of the fact that no one has reached out to demand for ransom from his friends or family.

The SPN accused the Buhari government of total disdain for the mainstream press and social media just as he had fail to put a stop to the growing insecurity in the country.

“The Buhari-APC regime has shown total disdain for the mainstream press and the social media while also failing to arrest the growing spate of insecurity. The recent Twitter ban in Nigeria came alongside a Nigerian Press Council Amendment Bill pushed by the Senate. This is after the same Senate failed to successfully push a Social Media bill to clamp down on social media users.

“Only recently the Staff quarters of the University of Abuja was invaded by kidnappers who abducted occupants including a university professor and demanded about 300 million Naira ransom for their return. The vice principal of the Junior Secondary School, Yebu in the Kwali Area Council of Abuja was also recently abducted by kidnappers.

“On August 2, 2019, social media critic Abubakar Idris (Dadiyata) was seized by unidentified men from his home in Barnawa, Kaduna State. The 34 year old university lecturer of the Federal University Dutsinma, Katsina State was a popular critic of the Kano State Governor, Umar Ganduje.

“The DSS and the Police denied knowledge of his whereabouts. This was the same way Mubarak Bala, social media critic and the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was abducted in his home in Kaduna State and taken to Kano secretly at the behest of the same Kano State Governor for making social media posts critical the Sharia Law.

“The police…at first denied knowledge of his whereabouts, and later held him incommunicado after acknowledging that they had him. Till date he is still being held in detention illegally, even against valid court orders. We demand his unconditional release.

“In 2016, journalist Jones Abiri was also grabbed in this manner by the State Security Services and held illegally for up to two years. The list of attacks and harassment of journalists, activists and social media commentators by state security forces goes on and on.

“The Socialist Party of Nigeria regard these tyrannical harassments and abductions as a threat to free speech, and we demand an end to this. We demand a democratic, open and public investigation led by bodies like the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Nigerian Guild of Editors, free speech civil society organisations, pro-labour organisations and human rights lawyers to look into this disappearance of Tordue Salem and other attacks.”

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