Al-jazeera journalists sue Nigerian Army, army chief over illegal detention

Two journalists, Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustapha, working for foreign news channel, Al-Jazeera, have sued the Nigerian army and its chief, Kenneth Minimah, for trampling on their fundamental rights.

Messrs. Idris and Mustapha – reporter and cameraman respectively of the news television – were arrested on March 24 in their hotel room in Maiduguri, Borno State for “loitering” in areas were combat operations were still on-going.

A statement by the Defence Headquarters said the journalists were moving around “restricted areas” in Yobe and Borno States without protection, accreditation or clearance.

The journalists, represented by lawyer and human rights activists, Femi Falana, sought a declaration that the arrest and their continued detention by the military were illegal and unconstitutional, thereby violating their right to personal liberty guaranteed by Section 34, 35 and 41 of the constitution and Article 5, 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and peoples’ Right Act.

They also sought an order directing the Nigerian military and Mr. Minimah to release the journalists from illegal military custody immediately.

The reliefs were sought on the ground that the applicants were not soldiers and that the military had no right to arrest them.
The reliefs also argued that “loitering or wandering” were not offences known to law; and the applicants were entitled to their liberty, freedom of movement and integrity to human person as guaranteed by Section 34, 35 and 41 of the constitution.

Peter Nkanga of the Committee to Protect Journalists told PREMIUM TIMES the journalists went incommunicado since 10:10 p.m. on Wednesday. He said their phones were seized from them by the military.

When contacted, the spokesperson for the Army, Sani Usman, directed all enquiries on the matter to the Director of Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, a Major General.

Mr. Olukolade could not be reached for comments.


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  • Layo

    There is something the military is trying to cover up. They usually tell our reporters what to write and what not to write, sometime they even seize their phones. Fact.

  • amazing2012

    Shameless fellow, portraying bad image on their country instead to fight criminals !

  • mcleomat

    I av said it severally that how cum there is no single video clip on the war on terror going on in the NE. I believe with the incoming govt may be we will know all that transpired in the NE war on terror.

  • favourtalk

    All of them must pay for the suffering they melted down on all military staff and common nigerians, and the disgrace they brought upon pir nation. Nigeria must be cleanse and we must attain that superior again

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  • bikky

    They promised to arrest Shekau live,up till now there is no any reliable information on bokoharam and it’s sponsored but they can quickly grabbed journalists that are seeking for reliable and authentic news. Nawa for our military.

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