Garba Shehu, Senior Special
Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Thursday night, said Jones
Abiri, the man arrested by the Department of State Services, DSS, is not a
journalist and does not belong to any chapel of the Nigerian Union of
Journalists, NUJ.

Shehu said Abiri was arrested for
pipeline vandalism and crude theft, including militant activities in the Niger
Delta.

The presidential spokesman was
reacting to a statement at the World Congress of International Press Institute
in Abuja that a journalist, known as Jones Abiri was arrested in the course of
his work.

“On the issue of the arrest and
continued detention of Mr Jones Abiri, who allegedly parades himself as a
journalist, by the Department of State Services (DSS), it is instructive to
note that the accused is a guest of the security agency because of his alleged
involvement in militant and criminal activities.
“Admittedly, the issue of Abiri
had been brought to the attention of the Presidency by the Committee to Protect
Journalists (CPJ).
“As a true believer in the rule
of law and the integral role of the media in a democracy, the Presidency did
interface with the security agency involved in the matter and our findings
confirmed that the suspect is in custody because of alleged involvement in
pipeline vandalism and theft.
“Abiri is not a registered
journalist with any of the media professional bodies in the country.’’
Shehu further stated that there
was no evidence to show that Abiri belonged to any chapel or membership of the
Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) or payment of the union’s check-off dues.
“Abiri’s stock-in-trade and
notoriety in the liberalised Nigeria media industry include fronting as a
spokesman for militants engaged in economic sabotage in the Niger Delta
region,” he added.
According to the presidential
aide, President Buhari is resolutely committed to the freedom of the press and
his administration will ensure that media personnel in the country discharge
their duties without let or hindrance.
He frowned at those individuals
or groups insinuating that President Buhari was in support of restrictions on
freedom of expression and the media.
“It is therefore very
uncharitable for anyone or group to suggest otherwise or infer that the
President is in support of restrictions on freedom of expression and the
media”, Shehu added.