Mary Ekere, the Uyo based female journalist who was jailed for taking photographs of the state Environmental & Waste Management Agency’s task force as they confiscated traders’ ware at Ibom Plaza in Uyo has finally regained freedom.
Ekere who is a reporter for a local newspaper “THE POST”, spoke about her ordeal in the hands of the overzealous agents of the government task force, “I was taken to Sanitation Court, off Nkemba Street. Unfortunately, the Magistrate was not around and I was remanded in prison custody.”
It was learnt that she was brought to court the following day (Tuesday) by the prison guards in their vehicle where she pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges leveled against her before the court. She was subsequently granted bail in the sum of N10,000 by the presiding magistrate.
It was however unclear why after meeting the bail terms she was taken back to Uyo prisons by the officials of the Nigerian prisons. Commenting on the situation the Nigerian Union of Journalists chairman in the state, Comrade Amos Etuk, expressed shock and disappointment about Miss Ekere’s unfair treatment while performing her lawful duty.
“It is shocking that Miss Ekere was taken back to prison custody after her bail conditions had been met,” Etuk said. In the same vein, the chairman of the NUJ Federated Chapel, Uyo , Mr. Inimfon Silas, who identified Mrs. Ekere as their member, in a statement condemned the act, stating that the arrest of the journalist was an indication that pressmen in the state were no longer safe to carry out their lawful duties. He vowed to use legal means to secure justice for the victim,
The state chairman of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ Mrs. Uduak Ekong, also condemned the act, saying she has called out her members in a peaceful protest on Wednesday morning to register their grievances.
The incident has earned The State Environmental and Waste Management Agency and it’s chairman, Prince Ikim a lot of rebuke and bad press. In an attempt to clear his name Prince Ikim denied that he authorized the arrest of the journalist. He said he was not even aware that Miss Ekere was charged to court and remanded in prison after meeting the bail term.
Meanwhile State officials including the SA to Governor Udom on local Press were with the NUJ President yesterday to meet with the Mary Ekere on a courtesy visit.