The Department of State Services has finally released Kufre Carter, a journalist with XL 106.9 FM Uyo in Akwa Ibom State, after public outcry condemning the action of the security agency.
Carter was arrested by the DSS on April 27, 2020 over a private phone conversation with an anonymous medical doctor, which the Akwa Ibom State Government alleged castigated the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr Dominic Ukpong, over his poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He was arraigned on a three-count charge bothering on alleged defamation, which carries a maximum punishment of three years imprisonment in the event of conviction.
However, after meeting his bail conditions, the DSS failed to release him, insisting on getting approval from Governor Udom Emmanuel before obeying the court order.
Confirming his release to our correspondent, Carter’s counsel, Inibehe Effiong said the Director General of the DSS ordered the security outfit to comply with the court order to release the journalist.
He said, “On Wednesday, 27th May, 2020 at about 9:30 a.m., our client, Kufre Carter, a sport’s journalist with XL 106.9 FM in Uyo regained freedom after spending one month in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS) at the instance and on the instigation of the Akwa Ibom State Government,” Effiong said in a statement.
“This came after the Director-General of the SSS, Alhaji Yusuf Bichi, ordered the SSS Command in Akwa Ibom State to comply with the valid and subsisting Order of the Court and release our client.”
Effiong called on the DG of the DSS to initiate an investigation to probe the illegal deployment of the DSS by the Akwa Ibom State Government to arrest the journalist.
He said, “While we are discomfited with the abusive deployment of the SSS by the Akwa Ibom State Government against our client, we nonetheless wish to thank the Director-General of the SSS for halting the voyage of illegality at the SSS Command in Akwa Ibom State.
“We appeal to Mr Bichi to probe the illegal deployment of the SSS by the Akwa Ibom State Government to arrest our client over a purported case of defamation, which has no bearing whatsoever with its statutory mandate under Section 2 (3) of the National Security Agencies Act of preventing and detecting crimes against the internal security of Nigeria.
“Nigerians will like to know how a purported case of “defamation of character” affects the internal security of Nigeria? This probe is necessary to forestall future abuse of the SSS by vindictive, vicious, wicked and oppressive politicians who have failed in their most basic responsibilities to the citizens.”