Released Nigerian journalist rejoins family, colleagues

Bayelsa Journalist, Jones Abiri, standing trial for alleged involvement in militancy, returned to the warm embrace of his wife, children and colleagues on Tuesday in Yenagoa.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr. Abiri, who was received at the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre, expressed his optimism of getting justice.

Mr. Abiri was arrested by the State Security Service (SSS) since July 2016 and detained for over two years without trial.

He was, however, arraigned before a Magistrates’ Court this month and subsequently, granted bail.

Speaking at a reception to welcome him to Yenagoa, two years after his ordeal, Mr. Abiri said contrary to the views held by the SSS, he was ready to face trial and prove his innocence.

Mr. Abiri, a law student before his incarceration, applauded the civil rights community, media and public-spirited individuals, who fought for his release from SSS custody.

He expressed gratitude to the Bayelsa State Council of the NUJ for the warm reception accorded him and the support given by the union during his incarceration.

In a goodwill message, a Niger Delta Rights activist, Annkio Briggs, noted that it took the intervention of Amnesty International to draw public attention to the abuse of Mr. Abiri’s human rights.

“I only became aware of the ungodly and evil breach of Abiri’s fundamental and professional rights after Amnesty International raised the matter.

“I am proud of you and I am so happy that you are back home to your family, people and region. From here on, you will never walk alone,” Ms. Briggs said.

John Angese, Chairman of the Bayelsa State Council of the NUJ, noted that Mr. Abiri was a member of the NUJ and discredited earlier reports that he was not on the NUJ register.

“Let me state that Jones Abiri is one of us here in Bayelsa. We cannot deny him because of the allegations levelled against him.

“Our position has always been that he should be presented in court. Now that the matter is in court, the judiciary should be allowed to determine if he is guilty or not.

“We appeal to our colleagues to be cautious in reportage of this reception and avoid comments that will jeopardise the trial,” Mr. Angese said.

In her vote of thanks, Mr. Abiri’s sister, Philomena Kenere, said their family was delighted to have the journalist re-uniting with them.

She expressed appreciation to everyone, who supported the family during Mr. Abiri’s absence.


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