The lawyers to Al-Mizan newspaper, whose two reporters were arrested and detained by the State Security Service, SSS, since Monday, have given the Director General of the Service, Ita Ekpeyong, 24 hours to release the detained Journalists or face prosecution.
This was made known in a statement signed by their lead counsel, Sadiq Marafa, and made available to journalists in Kaduna on Friday.
The two Journalists, Aliyu Saleh and Musa Mohammed, were arrested on Monday in a pre-dawn raid on their houses in Rigasa, a suburb of Kaduna.
Though the SSS is yet to officially declare the reason for the arrest of the duo or charge them to court as required by law, one of the editors of the paper informed PREMIUM TIMES that it could be due to a story published by the paper alleging the abduction and subsequent disappearance of 84 youth from their homes in Potiskum, Yobe State, about 3 months ago.
The victims were allegedly abducted by officers ofthe Joint TaskForce in Yobe. It is common knowledge in Maiduguri and Yobe that the JTF engage in extra-judicial activities.
The Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also raised same in different publications. Mr. Marafa said the SSS had indicated that the reporters are detained in place of the Editor-in-Chief of the paper, Awwal Ibrahim, who went into hiding to evade arrest.
Also, the National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Garba Mohammed, told PREMIUM TIMES over the telephone that Mr. Ekpeyong pledged to release the two reporters by Friday “after they must have concluded their investigations”.
Today’s decision to serve notice on the SSS, by lawyers to Al-Mizan, is seen as a reaction to the DG’s inability to release the reporters as promised. It also means that if the SSS does not willingly release the journalists, they would spend the weekend in detention as their lawyers can only go to court on Monday.