13th October, 2011
Yusuf Ali, the Northern Operations Editor of The Nation newspaper who was arrested alongside Yomi Odunuga, the Abuja Bureau Chief of the same publication last Tuesday by police detectives has finally been released.
The Police had arrested the two journalists based on a letter allegedly written by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Goodluck Jonathan.The former President had in the letter asked Jonathan to sack some bosses of federal government agencies, most of whom are Northerners. But the former President denied writing any such letter during a chat with journalists at Lagos Airport denied writing any such letter.
The Police claimed to be acting on a petition by the former President when it took the journalists into custody last Tuesday. A detachment of Police officers had also on the same day raided the Lagos office of Vintage Publications, publishers of the newspapers, and in the process arrested five staff of the newspaper, including Lawal Ogianegbon, the deputy editor of the publication. Lawal was flown to Abuja the same night and detained in police cell alongside Ali and Odunuga.
P.M.NEWS learnt that after intense pressure from several quarters, including the presidency, the office of Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation and a leading Senator, four of the five detained journalists were released on Wednesday evening.
The Police however refused Ali who authored the story bail, but instead said threaten to arraign the senior journalist in court on Thursday on charges of defamation, forgery and sedition. Reporters have scoured the courts around Abuja Thursday in anticipation of arraignment of Ali without success.
The senior journalist however told P.M NEWS that he was officially released from Police custody around 2 pm on Thursday. He also said the Police did not indicate that they are will still go ahead with his trial even though they put pressure on him to reveal the source of the letter.Yusuf said he refused and assured the Police that he has done enough due diligence on the authenticity of the letter before going ahead to use it for his story.
The journalist said Police also accused him of trying to cause national security breach with the publication of the letter, a charge he denied