Nigeria Alert: Journalists languish in arbitrary detention for 66 days

Emmanuel Fateman, assistant editor, and Joseph Jolayemi, a graphic artist, at National WAVES Magazine have been detained for 66 days following their arrest by officers of the Nigeria Special Force on December 16, 2014.

The MFWA’s partner organisation in Nigeria, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) reported that the two are in detention as a result of an article that was published in their newspaper.

This article was on the uncovering of an alleged fraudulent 650 million Naira (about US$ 3,250,000) contract awarded by the Bauchi State government to A. A. Oil Company Limited.

 According to MRA, the publisher of the magazine, Jimmy Enyeh, said that the magazine uncovered the alleged suspicious dealings in August 2014 and sought the side of the Chief Executive Officer of the oil company, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar.

The newspaper hence sent a letter to Alhaji Abubakar on September 1, 2014, titled “Request for reaction on collection N650million for unexecuted contract.” However, the magazine did not receive a response from Abukakar or any representative of the oil company.

The story was consequently published in National WAVES Magazine on September 22, 2014.

Soon after the magazine published the story, Enyeh started receiving threatening phone calls saying “the apparatus of the state, including the law enforcement agencies, will be used to punish” him for publishing the story.

On the instruction of Alhaji Abubakar, an officer of Nigeria’s Special Task Force on Terrorism and Heinous Crimes served the publisher a letter of invitation. Enyeh said when he learnt of the invitation, he contacted his lawyer and requested that the meeting be rescheduled because he was out of town but the officer refused.

According to MRA, following the threat, Enyeh instituted an action at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory challenging the interference of the Task Force in a civil matter.

Alhaji Abubakar also filed a civil suit at the same court seeking relief against the magazine and Enyeh for the alleged defamatory publication.

Officers of the Special Task Force arrested Fateman and Jolayemi last December and have kept them in detention without charge since.

The MFWA condemns the continuous arbitrary detention of Emmanuel Fateman Joseph Jolayemi without due process of law. It calls on the Special Task Force to adhere to the country’s constitutional provisions and respect the rule of law by ensuring that the journalists are charged for Court or released immediately.

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