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May 11, 20204min2330

Nigeria: Top cartoonist released by country’s Army after two days in custody

Top Nigerian cartoonist, Mr Mike Asukwo has been released by the Nigerian Army after spending three days in their custody.
Asukwo works with BusinessDay newspapers, and has drawn ire with his audacious images which spare no one including the country’s presidents.
But arrested on matter the Army has failed to say, the country’s 145 Battalion deployed at Abia Express Towers Umuahia, Abia State, acting on a tip off from the Army Headquarters in Abuja arrested him.
The country’s Army spokesman, acting, Sagir Musa refuted the allegation saying Asukwo was picked up for flouting lockdown rules.
He said is a short statement, “Please be informed that Mr Mike Asukwo that was earlier allegedly reported on social media to have been arrested by troops of 145 Battalion rear deployed at Abia Express Towers Umuahia along with four others has been released yesterday.”
He added, “He was reportedly ‘arrested’ at the towers on his way from Lagos to Calabar on the 8th of May 2020.”
He however acknowledged the Army arrested Asukwo in what is being viewed as increasing repression on the press in an administration often accused of press gag.
“In order to correct the erroneous impression created earlier in the social media, Mr Asukwo was never arrested but was invited by the army in Umuahia in respect of an investigation in a matter which he is privy to.
He noted Asukwo has denied he was ever arrested but added, “Nigerian Army is not involved in the enforcement of Lockdown and so he was not invited or ‘arrested’ in connection with restriction of movement order as mischievously claimed or reported.”
Daily Mail could not reach Asukwo to further confirm the contrasting position from the Army but David Essien of the West African Free Press, Accra, Ghana, decried increasing assault on the media in the sub-region and in Nigeria in particular.
“Nigeria has this orgy of press repression and it keeps going on unabated under the current regime. The country should be a shinning example but has failed woefully.
“I think part of the problems is increasing cases of corruption and bad leadership generally. The government doesn’t want to be held accountable or questioned in any form.
“It’s reminiscence of military junta and Nigerian president was a former military ruler, it’s not a surprise.
“The press would have to rise up and challenge this increasing assault to ensure unbiased reportage and an unfettered space for journalists in Nigeria.”

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