25 December 2012

Nigeria: Concerns Mount Over Journalists Whereabouts

Photo: Vanguard
Nigerian Army

Kaduna — The Editor of the Zaria-based Al. Mizan, a Hausa newspaper, Musa Mohammed Awwal, and one of his reporters, Aliyu Saleh, were on Sunday night forcefully taken away from their homes by armed men said to be in army uniform.

The incident has raised fears and anxiety among their family members and journalists over their whereabouts and safety.

Awwal's wife, Hanatu, told journalists who paid her a solidarity visit at their home in Rigassa area of Kaduna that the men, numbering about 20, and armed, stormed their home around 4.a.m. on Sunday night wearing military camoflague with the insignia of United State Army.

She said they came in SUV vehicles with tinted glasses and forced their way into their home, ordered everyone to lie on the floor, then went on to beat up her husband severely.

Hanatu said the men who thoroughly searched their home, carted away mobile phones and laptops, before taking her husband with them.

Also in a statement, the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper, Ibrahim Musa, collaborated Hanatu's story, adding that the same treatment was meted out to the reporter.

"They whisked away Aliyu and his wife. They later dropped her along Makarfi road while they made away with the two journalists.

"Although it is not clear why they have been arrested, however it might notbe unconnected with the lead story of the current edition of the Al-Mizan Newspaper which revealed the atrocities of the Military Joint Task Force in Potiskum in which 84 persons were abducted.

"We call for the immediate and unconditional release of our staff whose arrests have violated due process and the individual human rights," the statement reads in part.

Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of the 1 Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army in Kaduna, Colonel Sani Usman Kukasheka, told journalists, that if there was an incident as such, the men werenot from the 1 Division.

"I can assure you that no one has authorised such an operation, and it could not have come from our men. All my checks reliably showed that there was no movement of such troops from any of our formation in the North. That is all I can tell you for now. If I get anything, I will let you know," he said.

Concerns Amount over Journalists' Whereabouts in Kaduna

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