Nigerian blogger, Jonathan Elendu, has been arrested by the State Security Service (SSS), the federal security enforcement agency in Nigeria.
Jonathan Elendu created Elendu Reports in 2005. It is an online news site focusing on federal corruption, economic mismanagement and government inefficiency. Jonathan has been living in the US since 1999:
Born and raised in eastern Nigeria, Elendu has resided in the US since 1999. He is president of Elendu & Associates, Inc., a public relations firm in Lansing, MI. He is Contributing Editor and Columnist for USAfricaOnline.com, the USAfrica Newspaper, Nigeria Central.com and Special Correspondent for the Black Business Journal Magazine. He is also the founder of SongDanceAfrica, Inc., a multi-media company.
Jonathan Elendu, the writer at Elendu Reports, was arrested by Nigeria's SSS on Saturday evening upon arrival in Nigeria from the United States. Elendu was reportedly arrested to answer questions because his ‘activities’ have allegedly generated some national security issues. One publication specifically reported that Elendu was arrested for “sponsoring a guerilla news agency.”[sic]
He was held for over 24 hours before he was interrogated.
Jonathan was arrested at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport:
Our source revealed that Sahareporters which is known for alleged subversive reports against the federal government and important personalities in the country, was allegedly the brain child of Elendu.
It was further learnt that when Elendu was arrested at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja as soon as he arrived via KLM Airline around 7.30 p.m. on Saturday, he was immediately whisked away to the SSS headquarters, Asokoro, Abuja.
Said our sources: “The hefty publisher was accosted on arrival by two SSS operatives who told him that he was being invited for a chat with their boss, he responded that since it was an invitation, they should give him time to go home and freshen up.
“The security operatives turned down his request, seized his international passport and whisked him away, only for him to remain incommunicado since then.”
Elendu's family members expressed concern and worry over the state of his health, as nobody has been able to communicate with him since Saturday.
Elandu Reports has been publishing articles considered sensitive by the ruling class:
Several of Elendu’s recent articles have been about the economic and ecological disaster under way in the Niger delta, where there have been armed clashes between government forces and separatist rebels for years. It was this story that led to US freelance journalist and filmmaker Andrew Berends and his Nigerian interpreter, Samuel George, being questioned for 10 days at the start of last month.
Was Jonathan arrested because of a mistaken association?:
News reports reveal that Elendu was mistaken to have some association with Sahara Reporters, a Nigerian site, hence the arrest. I have said it before and will say it again- although I can appreciate the interest in the sometimes sensationalist and “juicy” stories Sahara Reporters shares on its website, I am constantly taken back by their inability or refusal, to back up their claims and allegations. As a result, I personally do not endorse that site.
Nevertheless, association with Sahara Reporters on its own should not be cause for arrest, detention and the infringement of Constitutional and Human Rights. There was no need to ambush and arrest Elendu at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport.
Point Blank News writes, “Why SSS Arrested Elendu …As Hunt For Publishers Of Pointblanknews.com, Saharareporters.com Continues”:
According to top SSS sources, the federal government had been on the trail of publishers of internet-based news organizations such as Pointblanknews.com, Saharareporters.com as well as Elendureports.com, and had therefore spread a dragnet to arrest the publishers if and when they are sighted in Nigeria.
According to the sources, the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration has been unsettled by damaging yet true reports from these online news organizations on its activities and style of governance and had, in fact, threaded where angels feared to, by publishing exclusive stories which newspaper editors in Nigeria would not touch.
The worry of government, according to these security sources, was that the opposition may have gone beyond feeding these online publications with damaging stories on government, but financing its activities. This worry is heightened by the fact that with increasing access to the internet by Nigerians, these online publications now gain wider acceptance over conventional Nigerian newspapers as sources of information. The situation is not being helped by Nigerian editors who often cull stories from these online sources to enrich their papers.
The closure of Channels TV wasn’t a one-off, it was an signal of things to come. Yardy's henchmen on Saturday arrested Mr Jonathan Elendu – online publisher of Elendu Reports. According to PM news, the United States-based publisher, who was arrested on arrival in Nigeria, was allegedly linked to Saharareporters, another online Nigerian news agency.
The Waffarian is very disappointed:
I am very disappointed with this news. The SSS has arrested Jonathan Elendu of Elendu reports, a political blog that features news and political articles about Nigeria. He was arrested on arrival at the airport under suspicion of being a journalist for Sahara Reporters, one of my favourite places to get the main “koko” of the matter.
What is happening? First Channels Tv, and now arresting an online blogger? I am afraid Yar'adua is going to be a surprise to many in that country. He is one of those that actually bites before even barks!
We need to rethink the idea that online journalism is the safest form of journalism, argues Ayobami Ojebode:
Online journalism has been considered the safest form of journalism, the least susceptible to state clampdown. It has negotiated for itself a clear space in the public sphere for citizens’ engagement of government, its actions and policies. This form of journalism is understandably attractive to Nigerians given the experiences of orthodox journalists in the hands of the Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha—Nigerian military dictators who hounded and pounded journalists for nearly fourteen years. (See, for instance, Sunday Dare's Guerrila Journalism)
Media scholars and political scientists who support the idea of a free press find in online journalism an avenue for unfettered freedom of expression. Not only this, online journalism has led them to announce and in fact celebrate the death of gate-keeping and censorship. [See, for instance, Williams and Carpini’s (2000) “Unchained reaction: the collapse of media gate-keeping…”, Journalism (1) 1:61-85]. Jonathan Elendu’s arrest by the government of Nigeria should lead theorists to cut short this celebration and rethink the universality of their conclusions.
The Committee to Protect Bloggers promises updates of the situation:
As of yesterday, 22nd October he had not been released or charged and it is not clear if he will indeed be brought before the courts.
We will give updates as the situation unfolds.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the detention of Jonathan:
Reporters Without Borders condemns the detention of Jonathan Elendu, the publisher of the online newspaper Elendu Reports (www.elendureports.com), since 17 October, when he was arrested by the State Security Service (SSS) on arrival at Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport, in the capital Abuja, on a flight from the United States, where he lives.
Denying that Elendu had been arrested, SSS spokesman Kenechuks Onyegogu said he had been “invited” by the SSS to explain certain matters involving “national security.” Elendu is being held at SSS headquarters in Abuja, where close relatives were refused permission to see him yesterday.
Which Way Nigeria denounces his arrest:
WWN denounce the arrest of Jonathan Elendu by the SSS. Elendu is an online journalist whom the SSS have in their custody and have been denied access to a lawyer. Since the SSS clamped down on Channels Television without any caution, the SSS have been embolden and easily dwindle into military era methods in handling Nigerian journalists that will make the Gestapo look like a rookie.
Human Writers Association of Nigeria describes the arrest as calls for his release:
At least now we know that Elendureports.com is classified by the government as a guerrilla news agency and it has a thing or two against”citizen reporting” websites. We understand that the SSS has refused him access his lawyers and family. How much worse can it get?
Yar ‘Adua not only wins a medal for lack of vision, he also seems set to top us all in stupidity! Whatever the case may be, let them release Jonathan Elendu NOW!
The arrest of Jonathan Elendu is one in a long line of attacks against freedom of press in Nigeria, says Sokari:
The arrest of Jonathan Elendu is one in a long line of attacks against freedom of the press in Nigeria (arrests, harassments and murder of anyone critical of the government) and one which is particularly characteristic of military dictatorships the remnants of which continue to remain active in the country.
Ayobami is disturbed by the silence of most Nigerian papers on the arrest of Jonathan. “Do orthodox Nigerian journalists consider their online colleagues comrades or rivals?,” he wonders:
There is some worry about the silence of most Nigerian papers on the arrest of Mr Jonathan Elendu. We do not know for sure why most papers, unlike bloggers, have been quiet on this. Even the BBC has done a report on the arrest. Do orthodox Nigerian journalists consider their online colleagues comrades or rivals? Maybe this is a good question for empirical investigation. However this goes, in my view, Nigeria is the first African country and the second country in the world (after China) to attempt a clampdown on online journalism.
Why is Tunde Akinloye not surprised by the arrest?:
I'm not surprised that Nigerian security officials arrested Elendu. You'd agree with me why, if you reason that this is the same country where government image makers made fool of themselves lieing openly to the 150 million people where the truth is public knowledge.
Perhaps, now the new generation of Nigerian youths would learn to take charge and elect credible leaders in future elections.