The National Human Rights Commission (NHRS) has assured that it would unravel the alleged threat to life and livelihood of a prominent Nigerian Sports journalist, Niyi Busari.
This was contained in a letter made available to newsmen titled “Complaint of Alleged Threat To Life” dated 5th February, 2021 and signed by the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Faith Okeosisi.
The NHRC explained that it is in receipt of complaint petition, registered C/2021/CPR/327/HQ and has ordered discreet investigation which commenced immediately to unravel those behind the threat to life and livelihood of the journalist.
This follows petition written by Human Right lawyer, Martin Obono who doubles as Executive Director, Tap Legal and counsel to Niyi Busari to the Commission on February 1, 2021.
According to the petition which was also sent to the Amnesty International, NFF and Attorney General of The Federation, BSN Sports publisher received a call from the Spokesperson of the State Security Service (DSS), Peter Afunanya inviting him to be added to the existing journalists who helped the Nigeria Security outfit in solving the country’s security challenges. Getting to the DSS Headquarters in Abuja on January 19, the invited guest was arrested, maltreated and quizzed for three hours by the agents of the DSS.
The petition reads in part; “We have his instructions to respectfully present this petition to the Director General of State Security Service on the arrest, detention and mistreatment by agent of DSS of Mr Niyi Busari on 19 January, 2021 , contrary to his constitutional rights under section 35 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Our instructions are that on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, the Spokesperson of the DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya , called Mr. Busari on the phone and invited him to his office for the explicit purpose of adding him to the SSS database which had over 105 journalists who cover different beats.
At the appointed day, he got to the DSS office whereupon another DSS official who refused to reveal his identity, walked in, took him to an office in his department and began gruesome interrogation on a story he published on his website (How NFF Spent $1.5m FIFA Grant) bordering in allegation of corruption, involving Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Secretary General, Sanusi Mohammed. At the end of the unsolicited quiz, the unidentified agent sternly warned the publisher never to write any story related to the NFF again. He went further to threaten that the NFF is ready to deal with him and frustrate all his endeavours in 2021.
Throughout this experience, Niyi was not booked for any offence nor informed of any charges known to the law. There was no record made of his arrest, apart from his his entitlements under the aforementioned provision of the 1999 Constitution. Meanwhile, Section 8 (1) Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 provides entitlement to notification of arrest and humane treatment. At this time, when the country is going through a dreadful epidemic of abduction and enforced disappearance, we are eve more appalled that Nigeria premier security institution chooses to resort to the methods of commercial kidnappers.
As at the time of writing this report, the Nigeria Football Federation has confirmed the receipt of the funds from FIFA, but, almost a year, over 350 football clubs which comprises of the clubs in the Nigeria National League (NNL) and the Nigeria Nationwide League (NLO) are yet to receive 100 percent payment of the money from the world football governing body.