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Media group demands safety of Akwa Ibom journalist

04 July 2014, 09:37Okoro Chinedu

Lagos - The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it held local authorities responsible for the safety of an editor armed men seized on Tuesday and had not been seen since.

Three men in plain clothing seized Thomas Thomas, editor of the thrice-weekly Global Concord newspaper, in Uyo, the capital of the oil-rich state of Akwa Ibom, according to news reports.

The journalist was handcuffed and forced into a waiting car, the report said.

Unyime Ekwere, chairman of the Global Concord's editorial board, told CPJ that Thomas was being detained by the State Security Service, but did not elaborate on the identity of his source.

He said no reason had been given and that the SSS denied having him in custody.

In separate telephone calls with CPJ, SSS Director Toma Minti and Etim Dickson, police spokesman, declined to comment on Thomas's whereabouts.

Global Concord has been very critical of the Akwa Ibom state government, according to news reports and local journalists.

Ekwere told CPJ that Thomas' disappearance could be connected to a recent story published in the paper that alleged plans by the Akwa Ibom state government to assassinate traditional chiefs ahead of the 2015 general elections over their refusal to support a government-chosen candidate. The story was based on a press release from the traditional chiefs, Ekwere told CPJ.

"CPJ is alarmed by the seizure of Thomas Thomas and calls on Nigerian authorities to do all they can to ensure his safety and well-being," said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator, Sue Valentine.

CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.

- CAJ News

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