Military officers in Nigeria arrested and detained for two days a reporter with ThePunchnewspaper during a swoop on residents of a community in Jos, Plateau State, on October 6, 2018.
The reporter, Friday Olokor, who is The Punch’s correspondent in Jos, is part of a group of journalists covering the military’s peace enforcement operation in the state which has been in the grip of deadly ethnic clashes in recent times and is currently under a curfew.
The military are also conducting a search for a retired officer, Gen. Mohammed Idris Alkali, who has been reported missing since October 3.
Olokor was at a local restaurant, around 9.30 pm, 30 minutes before the curfew time, when a military vehicle filled with about 30 men suddenly appeared. Without any provocation, the soldiers started firing in the air, beating anyone on sight and arresting tens of people, including the journalist, whose press tags were ignored.
“Even my identification that I’m a journalist didn’t help matters. Twenty-eight of us were kept in an uncompleted building and I had no access to my family, editors and colleagues because they took our phones,” the reporter narrated.
The attack has drawn the anger of the Plateau State council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists which has threatened to stop its coverage of the military operations in the area.
A military spokesman said the journalist was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
“We are looking for a retired army officer and where he (the journalist) went to eat was close to the scene; two bars were raided at the same time. He was unfortunate to be in one of them,” explained Col. Kayode Ogunsanya.
The MFWA condemns the two-day detention of the journalist alongside other citizens who languished longer in unlawful custody. If Olofor was mistakenly arrested, he should have been released within minutes of being identified as a journalist rather than kept in arbitrary detention for two days. We call on the military authorities to bring the perpetrators to book.