Reporters Without Borders urges the Nigerian authorities to locate Thomas Thomas, the editor of Global Concord, an independent and outspoken newspaper based in Uyo, the capital of the southeastern state of Akwa Ibom, who was abducted yesterday by three men in plain clothes. The State Security Service (SSS) denies holding him. The SSS is an intelligence service whose agents operate in civilian attire and that has been regularly denounced by RWB for its exactions against journalists.
Thomas recently caused a stir by publishing a series of articles about the state government’s alleged mismanagement of public funds, causing governor Godswill Akpabio to take offence.
Witnesses report seeing Thomas pursued by a Toyota Corolla at around 6 p.m. on July 2nd. Three armed men in civilian dress got out and forced Thomas to get into their car. He has not been seen since then.
When Unyime Equere, the chairman of the newspaper’s editorial board, contacted the head of the SSS in Akwa Ibom, he denied holding Thomas. Equere nonetheless insists that sources close to the SSS say that Thomas is in the agency’s custody.
“Thomas must be found as a matter of urgency,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk. “If his articles upset the state authorities, legal recourse is available to them but armed intimidation is never justified.”
Kahn-Sriber added: “We urge those who kidnapped this journalist to respect the Nigerian constitution, which guarantees media freedom. Thomas must be released without delay.”
Nigeria is ranked 112th out of 180 country’s in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.