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Nigerian journalist arrested over an article he did not write

On 6 June 2013 at about 9pm local time, Mr. Emmanuel Unah, a reporter for the CrossRiver Watch, an online news platform, was arrested by operatives from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters, in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

The arrest was over a story entitled "Cross River Deputy Governor Commands Wife to Kneel down and Apologize to His Aide," published by the CrossRiver Watch on 31 May 2013.The story went viral online to the embarrassment of the Deputy Governor, Mr. Efiok Cobham, who ordered the arrest of the author. However, Mr. Unah was not the author of the story.

Mr. Unah was arrested from his home in the presence of his children who were reportedly visibly traumatized. Eye witnesses' reports said "fully armed operatives from Diamond Hill of the CID stormed Mr. Unah's residence in the dead of the night demanding that he follow them to their office."

Mr. Unah was arrested based on the fact that he is an employee of the online platform. A police source was reported to have revealed that another journalist informed them that Mr. Unah was a reporter for the CrossRiver Watch and that the CID officials arrested him in order to force him to reveal who actually wrote the story.

Mr. Roland Edet – a friend of the arrested journalist – visited him at the CID Headquarters and said "Up til this morning [7 June 2013], the police had no tangible reason for arresting Emmanuel other than asking him about his relationship with CrossRiver Watch. I would want to think that if a registered media organization publishes what you don't agree with, you go to court."

When Media Rights Agenda spoke with Mr. Unah after his release, he said that when he was arrested, the policemen also took his laptop. Mr. Unah also said that he was detained overnight in a cell and forced to disclose his password, with which they accessed his emails.

His laptop was not released to him when he was released on 7 June. He was ordered to report back to the station on 10 June 2013.

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