25 December 2012

Nigeria: Soldiers Grab Two Journalists in Kaduna

Photo: Vanguard
Nigerian Army

Heavily armed soldiers yesterday morning whisked away the editor of Kaduna- based Hausa vernacular newspaper, Al-Mizan Musa Muhammad Awwal, and one of his reporters, Aliyu Saleh, to an unknown destination.

When contacted on phone, the assistant director, Army Public Relations, 1 Division, Kaduna, Colonel Sani K. Usman said, "I was not aware of the arrest. I will investigate the issue because up to 10 people, including journalists have called me on this issue."

The unidentified security operatives, numbering over 20, according to eyewitness, stormed the editor's residence at Rigasa area of Kaduna metropolis at about 4.30 am.

Narrating her ordeal to newsmen, Awwal's wife, Hajiya Hanatu said that when the armed men stormed their residence, they threatened to shoot everybody in the house if the door was not opened quickly as ordered.

She added that her husband was resting on a cushion, having worked late into late night when the men came, ransacked the rooms, his car and took away some essential documents, cell phones and an undisclosed amount of money.

According to her, "All of a sudden, we heard a loud knock on the door, saying that if we did not open the door, they will shoot us. So I volunteered to open the door.

"As soon as I opened the door, I saw many men with big guns; they were wearing military uniforms with US Army badges boldly attached on them.

"I have never seen such guns in my life. One of them slapped me, and my children. They took away my mobile phone even when I pleaded that I have my projects stored in the phone. They went away with my husband without telling us his offence."

Hanatu further said that there was a suspicion that her husband's travail might not be unconnected to the latest edition of the paper which wrote about alleged JTF killings in Yobe State. She however pleaded for husband's release.

"When we were forced out of the house, we saw about 20 men with guns and with parked tinted jeeps. We are appealing to the state and federal government to intervene at least for us to know his whereabouts," she said.

Meanwhile, the Editor-In-Chief of the vernacular newspaper, Ibrahim Musa, in a press statement made available to newsmen shortly after the arrest, demanded the immediate release of the two journalists.

"Although it is not clear why they have been arrested, however it might not be unconnected with the lead story of the current edition of the Al-Mizan newspaper which revealed the atrocities of the JTF in Potiskum in which 84 persons have been abducted.

"We hereby call for the immediate and unconditional release of our staff members whose arrest has violated due process and their individual human rights," Musa said.

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