Emmanuel Fateman and Joseph Jolayemi, detained staff of Abuja-based National WAVES magazine were released on bail earlier this month.
The MFWA’s correspondent in Nigeria reported that although their release has been confirmed, details are sketchy. Fateman and Jolayemi currently face criminal defamation charges while the magazine and its editor, Jimmey Enyeh, are facing a civil law suit.
The article at issue in the upcoming court cases discussed an allegedly fraudulent 650 million Naira (about US$ 3,250,000) contract awarded by the Bauchi State government to A. A. Oil Company Limited. On the orders of Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar, the Chief Executive Officer of the oil company, Fateman and Jolayemi were arrested by officers of the Special Task Force on Terrorism and Heinous Crimes on December 16, 2014.
While Enyeh maintains that the magazine tried to get the side of Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar, he says the magazine failed to contact him.
The journalists are due to appear in court on April 21, 2015. On February 20, 2015, the MFWA reported on the continuous detention of Fateman and Jolayemi and urged the Special Task Force to either immediately release the two or charge them.
The MFWA subsequently launched a global campaign through the IFEX network to petition the Nigeria Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, for the release of the journalists. While waiting for endorsements from IFEX members, the MFWA received information that Fateman and Jolayemi had been released. It is unclear if authorities got wind of the MFWA’s petition which had gained global support or if the journalists were released for other reasons.