14 February 2013

Nigeria: Journalists Deny Inciting Attack On Polio Workers

Kano — Journalists working with Wazobia FM radio station in Kano on Tuesday denied instigating the attack that led to the killing of 10 polio immunization officials by gunmen in the state on Friday.

The journalists, Yakubu Musa and Mubarak Mohammed Sani, alongside former director general of the Kano State Films Censorship Board, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, were arraigned before a Gyadi-Gyadi Magistrate's Court over allegations of instigating the attack on the polio officials.

The trio and the station's head of programme, Mohammed Suleiman Gama, were on Sunday detained by the police over the allegations.

Gama was released on Monday without being charged, while the two journalists were charged with criminal conspiracy, inciting disturbance, intentional insult, obstruction, defamation of character and injurious falsehood, contrary to Sections 97, 85, 114, 399, 148, 392 and 393 (1) of the Penal Code. They pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The court was told that Rabo had on February 4, refused to allow polio officials to immunize his children, and that when the district head of Tarauni Local Government went to find out his reasons the following day, he conspired with the two journalists who aired a local programme called "Sandar Girma". The prosecutor added that on the programme, the duo "discredited the polio immunization programme, defamed the character, reputation and personality of the district head in addition to instigating the attack on the polio officials".

The court adjourned ruling on the bail application brought by the defendants' lead counsel, Musa Aliyu, to February 14, 2013, and ordered them to be remanded in police custody.

The court further ordered that they should be given unconditional access to their lawyers and members of their families in addition to all constitutional rights as provided by the Nigerian constitution for accused persons, while in police custody.

Meanwhile, the management of the radio station has described arrest of the journalists as politically motivated.

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