Nigeria Clamps Down On Free Speech: Police Chief Keeps Journalist Detained Over Critical Article

Inspector-General idris


The police have released Andrew Elombah, a London-based Nigerian journalist, who was arrested by their operatives on Monday, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.

But Mr. Elombah’s brother, Timothy, who was also arrested, would be kept in custody for another seven days based on a warrant signed by a magistrate.

Police told PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday afternoon that they arrested the brothers and, ”a third person” and would be filing criminal charges against them.

The brothers were taken to a magistrate’s court in Mpape, Abuja, on Tuesday where a warrant was issued to further keep Timothy in custody.

“This would enable us carry out our preliminary investigations before filing criminal charges against him,” said police spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood.

Mr. Elombah and another man who works for the online platform,, were granted administrative bail Tuesday while Timothy remains in custody.

Timothy Elombah is the editor-in-chief of the online newspaper, which began operations in 2009.

Mr. Moshood declined to tell PREMIUM TIMES the specific charges that would be filed against Mr. Elombah.

Andrew Elombah told PREMIUM TIMES his release included a condition that he must not step out of Abuja for the next few weeks, ”or even months.”

“We’re working with our lawyers to see how they could void this stringent condition,” he said. He also added that effort were underway to get his brother out before seven days.

The journalists were arrested around 4:30 a.m. at their country home in Nnewi on New Year’s Day.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that they were arrested by the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad who stormed their home during the festive period.

Andrew Elombah said the arrests were linked to a story published online, but not on their website.

“They said an opinion piece that denigrated the Inspector-General of Police was published on, which is not our own website,” Mr. Elombah said.

He added that the police said the piece was written by Timothy Elombah under a pseudonym, but failed to present any evidence to support the claim.

When asked by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Moshood would neither confirm nor deny whether the journalists were detained over a story critical of the the IGP.

The trio were initially taken to a SARS detention facility in Anambra after their arrest. They were later moved to Abuja around 7 a.m. Monday, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

It is not immediately clear when the journalists would be taken to court for trial.