Detained Nigerian journalists freed, but equipment still held

The state security service arrested Musa Muhammad Awwal (pictured above) for the second time in less than a month

The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS) to return laptops and cell phones confiscated from two journalists who were illegally detained for more than a week without charge.

Editor Musa Muhammad Awwal and reporter Aliyu Saleh of Hausa-language weekly newspaper Al-Mizan were released from the custody of the SSS in the capital, Abuja, early Tuesday morning, defense lawyer Sadiq Marafa told CPJ. “They are in good health. They were treated very well,” Mr. Marafa said, but added that the SSS warned the journalists that they could be summoned again as investigations continue.

“Throughout our detention we were not told our offence, but they still have our mobile phones and laptops, which they said would be returned to us as soon as they are done with their investigation,” Mr. Awwal told Agence France-Presse.

The state security service arrested the journalists and searched their homes and office in the northern state of Kaduna without warrants on December 24, Mr. Marafa told CPJ. Their wives were also detained briefly, he said.

The journalists were held incommunicado and were not taken to court despite a legal limit of 48 hours of detention without a court appearance, he said. Their release came after Marafa threatened to sue the government over illegal arrest and detention if the journalists were not let go within 24 hours, according to news reports.

Local journalists have said they believe Awwal and Saleh were arrested over a front-page story alleging extrajudicial detentions of 84 civilians suspected of affiliation with the Islamist militant sect Boko Haram, which has been fighting Nigeria’s federal government in a bid to impose Shariah law in the country’s northern, predominantly Muslim states.

“After alleging that the government was engaging in widespread extrajudicial imprisonment, Musa Muhammad Awwal and Aliyu Saleh were themselves subjected to unlawful detention at the hands of state security forces,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “While we welcome the release of the journalists, we call on Nigerian authorities to immediately return all confiscated equipment and to ensure that all journalists are able to report on matters of public security without intimidation.”

Security agents also raided the home of and launched a hunt for Al-Mizan Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim Musa, who went into hiding, according to news reports.

Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission, the Nigerian Union of Journalists, and prominent public figures condemned the journalists’ detention, according to news reports. The Commission also urged the government to probe the allegations of extrajudicial detentions.

Al-Mizan is run by the Shiite organization Islamic Movement of Nigeria, according to news reports.

SOURCE: Committee to Protect Journalists

Advertisement

PT Mag Campaign AD

Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.

Donate


TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...



NEVER MISS A THING AGAIN! Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

DOWNLOAD THE PREMIUM TIMES MOBILE APP

Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.