June 29, 2022

[GIST] International Press Centre Condemns Detention, Harassment Of Wikki Times Journalists Over Report On Deceased APC Local Council Chairman

[GIST] International Press Centre Condemns Detention, Harassment Of Wikki Times Journalists Over Report On Deceased APC Local Council Chairman

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The International Press Centre (IPC) has condemned the detention, harassment and molestation of Haruna Mohammed, the publisher of WikkiTimes online newspaper and one of its reporters, Idris Kamal, by the Bauchi state police command.

The IPC on Tuesday condemned the action of the state police command in a statement signed by the Executive Director of IPC, Lanre Arogundade, and obtained by SaharaReporters.

Arogundade noted that the ordeal of the two journalists began on Monday, June 27, 2022, when they honoured an invitation from the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) following a petition by one Yakubu Shehu Abdullahi, a member of the House of Representatives, representing Bauchi Federal Constituency.

He noted that the invitation concerns a Wikki Times report of May 18, 2022, on the sudden death of the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Bauchi Local Government Area of the state.

He said, "The journalists arrived at the station about 10:00 am on Monday but after making a statement, they were clamped into a cell where they alleged that they were physically assaulted.

“Despite the presence of their lawyer at the police station, they were not set free until about 10 hours later and asked to report back on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, for further interrogation. The two journalists again reported at the SCIID Bauchi on Tuesday as directed but were promptly taken before a Bauchi Magistrates Court where they were charged with criminal conspiracy, defamation of character and cyber stalking.

"The court ruled that they should be held in custody until tomorrow, Wednesday, June 29, 2022. IPC is worried about this trend of events and calls on the police command in Bauchi to avoid being used as tools of harassment against the journalists. Since the petitioner alleged defamation, the police should have in the first instance advised him to seek legal redress instead of illegally detaining the journalists for 10 hours on Monday, June 27, 2022, and subjecting them to physical and mental harassment in the process.”

"It now behoves the police authorities in the state to ensure the safety of Mohammed and Kamal. Journalists should not continue to be treated as endangered species in Nigeria. In all circumstances the security agencies must always strive to toe the path of the rule of law in handling complaints or petitions against journalists and other media professionals, just as they should normally do for all citizens," Arogundade added.

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