The Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, has warned Governor of Kaduna State Nasiru El-Rufai against “persecuting journalist in the state”.
The warning came following the trial of a journalist, Luka Binniyat.
A Kaduna State High Court on Wednesday remanded Mr. Binniyat, a former reporter with Vanguard Newspapers, over allegations of false publication brought by the Kaduna State Government.
The government says Mr. Binniyat’s report in Vanguard in February falsely claimed that five students were killed at a road block erected by Fulani herdsmen, compounding the state’s already poor security situation at the time.
Authorities said the journalist fabricated the name of a student (James Joseph) as among those killed, and claimed the victim was a student of Mass Communication in the state College of Education.
During the ruling Friday, Mr. Binniyat, who had reportedly been involved in an accident walked into the courtroom with the help of crutches.
The presiding judge, Bashir Sukola, ordered his remand nonetheless.
The journalist will be staying in jail till July 20 when the ruling on his bail application will be taken.
A statement issued on Saturday by Shuaibu Leman, national secretary of NUJ, accused the governor of being behind Mr. Binniyat’s travails.
Mr. Leman described the governor’s actions as “clearly aimed at his perceived political opponents which ridiculously include the media”.
The statement said as a result of the governor’s “intolerance” for criticisms and “aversion” for the media, many journalists in the state were being persecuted by the government.
“We are terrified by the remanding of Binniyat in prison custody because of his health challenges. He had an accident and came to court on clutches to answer the summons but instead of being in hospital, he is now behind bars. The NUJ will hold Governor Nasiru el Rufai fully responsible if anything mysterious happens to Binniyat in prison,’’ the statement said.
It asked the governor to attend to the problems of Southern Kaduna rather than intimidate and threaten journalists doing their legitimate work.
Samuel Aruwan, senior special assistant to the governor on media and publicity, did not respond to calls, e-mails and WhatsApp messages sent to him on Friday.