|The SSS is yet to release the two journalists (Photo Credit: naijanation.com)|
The Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has condemned the Dec. 24 arrest of two of their colleagues who work for a popular Hausa newspaper, Al-Mizan and call for their immediate release.
Several efforts by the union to find the whereabouts of the editor of Al-Mizan Newspaper Malam Musa Muhammad Auwal and a reporter with the same Newspaper Malam Aliyu Saleh, proved abortive, as some of the security agents contacted claimed ignorance of their arrest.
In a statement, the union viewed this clandestine operation as "primitive and unwarranted”.
The journalists were whisked away by agents of the State Security Service, SSS, to an unknown destination. Local media reports described the operation as a “military-era Gestapo tactics”.
The reports said the security operatives came in about 10 cars and first stormed the house of Aliyu Saleh, a reporter who resides in Rigasa, Kaduna. Mr. Saleh and his wife were rough-handled before their arrest at about 4:00 a.m. The gun wielding SSS men also stormed the house of Editor Musa Awwal, who was also manhandled alongside his wife.
When the police were through with harassing the couples, they left the two women and arrested the two journalists, according to Premium times.
The chairman of the union, Comrade Yusuf Idris stated that there are more civilized and acceptable standards of carrying out investigations.
“This method of attacking journalists and beating their wives in their homes before they were taken away is unacceptable,” he said. “NUJ urged the security agencies to produce the two journalists unharmed and adopt acceptable standards of investigating alleged crimes, pointing out that, the right proper thing to do is to take the matter to court for subsequent action.”
Local media link the arrest of the two journalists to a story headlined: “Atrocities of JTF in Potiskum” which narrated how the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Yobe State has been engaging in extra-judicial arrests and murder of innocent citizens.
The Cape Town-based Protection Rights of Journalist of Africa (PRJA), on Tuesday condemn the arrest of two Nigerian journalists.
“We condemn the brutality meted on our fellow colleagues Musa Mohammed Awwal and Aliyu Saleh. The manner they were arrested and how their families were subjected to inhuman treatment is an indictment on the government of Nigeria and her repeated resolved to protect the rights of journalists,” Mr. Adamu Abubakar Gwarzo, president of PRJA said.
The constitution of Nigeria is very clear on such violations and what the law requires. It is illegal to detain them above the stipulated 24 hours without taking them to court.
“The situation is dangerously callous. 48 hours after these colleagues are still held in secret detention, sad,” the Head Cover and Investigations of the Sunday Trust Nuruddeen M. Abdallah in Abuja told The North Bank Evening Standard.
Well before the Al-Mizan story was published, credible international organisations like the Amnesty International have equally revealed gross human rights violations by members of the JTF in their fight against the Boko Haram insurgency.
PRJA call on Mr. Goodluck Jonathan to call the SSS and the Police to order and to resist their overzealous attitude that will further harm whatever progress his government recorded in the area of protecting the rights of journalists across the country.
On Wednesday Premium Times reported that the SSS has demanded from senior journalists in Kaduna that unless the Editor-in-Chief of Al-Mizan, Awwal Ibrahim, surrenders himself, they would not release the two journalists, Aliyu Saleh and Awwal Musa.
The paper reported that at a meeting Wednesday in Abuja with the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, officials of the SSS promised to release the reporters as soon as Mr. Ibrahim surrenders himself. Mr. Ibrahim’s house was also raided by the security operatives at a time he was not at home. He has since gone into hiding.
Written by Modou S. Joof