A journalist and Yenagoa-based publisher standing trial for alleged involvement in militancy, Mr. Jones Abiri, on Tuesday said that following his experience in detention for over two years by the Department of State Service (DSS), he has concluded plans to write a book titled : “My prison journey “.
Abiri arrived the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre to the warm embrace of his wife, children, fellow journalists and family members.
Abiri, who was arrested by agents of the DSS in July 2016 and detained for over two years without trial was arraigned before a Magistrates’ Court in August 2018 and was subsequently granted bail.
Speaking at a reception organized to welcome him in Yenagoa two years after his ordeal, Abiri said that contrary to the views held by the DSS, he was ready to face his trial and prove his innocence.
Abiri, a law student before his incarceration, applauded the civil rights community, the media and public spirited individuals who
advocated for his release from the DSS detention.
Abiri disclosed that he had filed a suit to enforce his fundamental human rights at the Federal High Court, Abuja, adding that the matter would come up for hearing on August 27.
He said, “If l am a militant, Niger Delta will know that l am a militant. But, l am not a militant. If I were a militant, l wouldn’t have owned an office to be doing my newspaper work. I should have been in the creeks. I have already filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja to enforce my fundamental human rights”.
He expressed gratitude to the Bayelsa state council of the NUJ for the warm reception accorded him and the support during his incarceration.
Abiri thanked the Press Unlimited, an organization in Netherlands for donating €2000 amounting to about N450,000 which facilitated his freedom, saying that even though he knew nothing about the organization, it came to his rescue through an environmental activist, Alagoa Morris and Peter Ikanga.
In a goodwill message, Niger Delta Rights Activist Ms. Annkio Briggs noted that it took the intervention of Amnesty International to draw public attention to the abuse of Abiri’s human rights.
“I only became aware of the ungodly and the breach of Abiri’s basic and fundamental human rights and professional rights after Amnesty International raised the matter.
“I am proud of you and I am so happy that you are back home to your family, people and region; from here on, you will never walk alone,” Briggs added.
Mr. John Angese, Chairman of the Bayelsa Council of the NUJ noted that Abiri was a member of the NUJ and discredited earlier reports that Abiri was not on the NUJ register.
“Let me state that Jones Abiri is one of us here in Bayelsa, we cannot deny him because of the allegations levelled against him.
“Our position has always been that he should be presented in court, now that the matter is in court, the judiciary should be allowed to determine if he is guilty or not.
“We appeal to our colleagues to be cautious in reportage of this reception and avoid comments that will jeopardize the trial,” Angese said.
In her vote of thanks, Mrs. Philomena Kenere, Abiri’s sister said that the family was delighted to have Abiri reunite with them.
She expressed appreciation to all those that supported the family through the challenge of Abiri’s absence.