Journalist arraigned, sent to prison over Southern Kaduna report

A journalist has been arraigned before a magistrate court in Kaduna on allegation of falsifying a news report about the Southern Kaduna crisis.

Luka Binniyat, a Vanguard newspaper Kaduna correspondent, was accused of falsely claiming that five students of the state College of Education were killed by Fulani herdsmen. The report was published on January 24.

Mr. Binniyat, who was invited for questioning by the State Security Service, SSS, Kaduna Command, drove himself to the SSS office at about 10a.m. Monday, and after interrogation was handed over to the police who later charged him to court.

The Chief Magistrate, Emmanuel Yusuf, granted Mr. Binniyat bail on a N200,000 bond, and a surety in like sum.

He said the surety must reside within the jurisdiction of the court and posses landed property within the jurisdiction of the court, covered with a Certificate of Occupancy.

Mr. Binniyat, who was escorted into the Prison at about 4:15 p.m., was to appear in Court on Tuesday to complete his bail terms.

A security source said the journalist’s report that five students were killed at a road block erected by Fulani herdsmen along Gidan Waya-Pasakori road in Jema’a Local Government, compounded security situation and created tension that almost plunged Southern Kaduna into another cycle of killings.

The journalist was accused of fabricating the name of a student (James Joseph) as among those killed, and saying the student was a native of Kurmin Musa village in Jaba LGA

The source also said Mr Binniyat stated in his report that James Joseph was a student of Mass Communication in the institution.

“Immediately, security agencies embarked on thorough investigation to the institution and the area the purported attack took place and Kurmin Musa village. There was no single student that was killed; there is also no Mass Communication course in the College of Education,” the source said.

“Our findings in the village revealed that there is no student known as James Joseph. And the area in question is in Kachia and not Jaba LGA. In a nutshell, everything reported in the story was found to be false.

“It is on all these, that he was investigated and handed over to the Police and they have taken him to the court.

Speaking at the court premises before being taken to the Kaduna Prison, Mr. Binniyat denied the allegation, saying he had his facts and source.

“My problem now is that the state government is now focusing on my person rather than looking at the organization that published the alleged story, Vanguard Newspaper, which is my principal. I expected them to have been joined in the suit but everything is, ‘You Luka Binniyat’, but I’m not discouraged by this as I’ll continue to put in the best in my profession as a journalist,” he said.

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