Abuja, Nigeria, November 15, 2021 – Nigerian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release journalist Luka Binniyat and drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On November 4, police in Barnawa, a town in northern Kaduna state, arrested Binniyat, a freelance journalist who contributes to the American newspaper. The epoch of time, according to a Era report and Jonathan Asake, president of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, a local rights group, who spoke to CPJ in a telephone interview.
Binniyat, who also works as a spokesperson for the Union of South Kaduna Peoples, was arrested at the group’s office in Barnawa, the sources said.
Officers took Binniyat to police headquarters in Gabasawa, northern Kaduna state, where they revealed that he was arrested in response to a complaint from Samuel Aruwan, the state commissioner for justice. internal security and affairs, following an October 29 report that Binniyat posted in The epoch of time, according to Asake and this report.
On November 8, police filed charges in a district court under section 24 (B) of the Cybercrime Act and took Binniyat to a local jail, Asake’s lawyer said. and Binniyat, Ehizogie F. Imadomeju, who spoke by phone with CPJ. On November 9, Binniyat was arraigned and the court rejected his request for bail, according to Imadomeju and another report through The epoch of time.
âNigerian authorities should stop all legal proceedings against journalist Luka Binniyat, immediately release him and reform the country’s laws to prevent the criminalization of journalism,â said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in New York. âDisputes over reporting must be resolved in such a way as to avoid the imprisonment of journalists. “
Section 24 (B) of the Cybercrime Act, which CPJ reviewed, criminalizes the use of computers or other devices to transmit information that the sender “knows to be false, with the aim of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, intimidation, enmity, hatred, unwillingness or unnecessary anxiety towards others or cause the sending of such a message .
Imadomeju told CPJ that if convicted of cyberstalking, Binniyat could face up to three years in prison and a fine of 7 million naira (US $ 17,049).
The epoch of time is an international media outlet based in the United States and affiliated with the religious movement Falun Gong; in Nigeria, it covers local reports and often reports religious and ethnic minorities.
by Binniyat 29 october Era report criticized the Kaduna state government’s response to the killings of Christians and quoted Senator Danjuma Laah as saying that Aruwan had been involved in covering up the facts around “genocide against Christians in Kaduna state from South “.
The report also alleged that police failed to make arrests a month after 38 unarmed farmers were killed in Madamai, a predominantly Christian community.
Aruwan told CPJ by phone that the comments attributed to Laah were false and put him and his family in serious danger.
Also reached by phone, Alfred Borg Audu, Laah’s special adviser on intergovernmental affairs, denied that Laah made the comments.
Asake told CPJ Binniyat was denied bail because the judge said the court had no jurisdiction over the case, then adjourned the proceedings until November 23, when she must be heard again by the same court.
Doug Burton, freelance writer for The Era who worked with Binniyat on the October 29 article, told CPJ by telephone that Binniyat wrote the report as a reporter for the media, not as a spokesperson for the Union of Southern Peoples of Kaduna.
CPJ called and texted Kaduna state police spokesman Mohammed Jalige for comment, but received no response.
Previously, authorities detained Binniyat in 2017 for alleged breach of public order and false reporting on a report he wrote for the Avant-garde information website, as CPJ had documented at the time.