Detained Nigerian journalist granted bail

Kaduna State College Of Education, Gidan Waya[Photo Credit: Nigeria Schools Blog]

A journalist arraigned before a magistrate court in Kaduna State on allegation of false report about the Southern Kaduna crisis has been released on bail.

Luka Binniyat, the Kaduna state correspondent of Vanguard newspaper, was accused of falsely reporting that five students of the state College of Education were killed by Fulani herdsmen.

The report was published on January 24.

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 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.

He, however, met the bail condition and was released at about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday by the court after he had spent a night in prison.

Speaking at the court premises before being taken to the Kaduna Prison on Monday, 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 am not discouraged by this as I will continue to put in the best in my profession as a journalist,” he said.

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 Local Government Area.

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.

“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,” the source added.

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