The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) strongly condemns the arrest of Nigerian journalist, Achadu Gabriel Idibia, of Daybreak Newspapers and calls on the judicial authorities of Kaduna State to dismiss all charges against him.
On November 13, 2023, Mr. Achadu Gabriel Idibia was arrested in Kaduna, questioned over a report he published and detained in a correctional facility. The September 24, 2023 publication was titled “Kaduna Hajj camp, a national shame, men, women sleep together in overcrowded hall – investigation.”
The authorities of the state of Kaduna are prosecuting Idibia for alleged intimidation, defamation of character, insulting, and attempts to instigate religious crisis in connection with the critical publication. The case was adjourned twice at the first and second hearings which were held respectively on December 12, 2023 and December 14, 2023 due to the prosecuting party’s failure to support their accusations with evidence.
According to Idibia’s media house, Daybreak Newspaper during the December 14 hearing, the prosecuting officer, Bitrus Kwaji, admitted being unprepared, stating that the Investigation Police Officer (IPO), Danladi Hassan, couldn’t furnish the court with the necessary materials, compelling him to request a new date. Consequently, a new date for the commencement of the hearing was scheduled for January 25, 2024.
It is quite surprising that the investigating police officer could not provide any evidence twice, when we can recall that Mr. Gabriel Idibia was first arrested on September 26, 2023 two days after the publication of his report, over the same accusations, before he was released on bail.
The Media Foundation for West Africa sees the action against Idibia as an attempt to discredit the journalist’s report, as the report indicts some leaders in the state of Kaduna in respect of the poor handling of the 2023 pilgrimage to Mecca.
The MFWA therefore calls on the authorities to put an end to this case which is a violation of the journalist’s rights, and to release him unconditionally.