We have for some time watched with consternation the
maltreatment of journalists by Nigerian security operatives.
We were in March miffed when we got the information that the
military arrested and detained two journalists, Ahmed Idris
and Mustafa Andy of Aljazeera Television, in the
The excuse given for the arrest of the newshounds was made
through its spokesman, Chris Olukolade who said they were
found to have been loitering around areas where military
operations are ongoing in the northeast and have been
restrained in Maiduguri.
But in its reaction Aljazeera had this to say about the two
men: They have all the relevant paperwork to report on the
Nigerian elections (this Saturday) and stories related to
Both men had just finished filming a story on the military
with their cooperation.
They were not loitering but were in the hotel room and had
only passed through the restricted areas of Yobe and Borno
State to get to Maiduguri.
To our chagrin, the men were detained for days before being
We were again worried when we learnt that the African
Independent Television had been banned from covering the
activities of the President-Elect, General Muhamadu Buhari.
His spokesman, Garba Shehu confirmed that AIT has been asked
to stay aside based on security and family concerns. In
addition, the Buharis have decided that they would have to
resolve some issues relating to issues of standard and
We will be talking with them to try and resolve the matter
but for now, the station, has been asked to stay aside
because like I said, there are some family and security
concerns. They have been asked to step down their coverage
until we resolve the matter with them on ethics and
standards, he had said.
When we were yet to get over the action of the action of the
aides of the Buhari elect, we learnt about the
de-accreditation and expulsion from Aso Rock, Ubale Musa, a
reporter with Deutsche Welle, a German radio station.
Security operatives attached to the Presidential Villa, were
said to have withdrawn Musas accreditation tag. Ostensibly,
his offence was that he embarrassed the presidency when he
asked Chadian President Idris Deby for an explanation on the
relationship between the multinational task force fighting
in Lake Chad and the South African mercenaries fighting with
This newspaper deems it fit to remind the authorities that
Nigeria practices democracy, and there is a proper mindset
to run it.
We need to remind our security operatives that we live in an
era of free speech.
The overbearing security men ought to know that the rights
of these journalists were abridged. For example, the
Deutsche Welle journalist was accredited to cover activities
at the presidential villa, and his ban reflects nothing but
If that reporter chooses to sue the authorities for the
encroachment on his rights, he has the support of this
If all these journalists had overstepped their professional
bounds, the matters should have been referred to relevant
institutions to deal with.
We therefore ask that the overzealous security men who
maltreated the journalists should be called to order as we
condemn without a modicum of reservation, the actions of the
military in detaining the Aljazeera journalists, and the
presidential security who manhandled the German radio
It is necessary to remind that the media is an integral part
of the state and its democracy. Indeed, it is yet to be seen
what society can succeed without the media.
Meanwhile, Hallmark calls on the Federal Ministry to
critically look into the cases of the journalists Deutsche
Welle and Aljazeera, since the two organisations are not
It is no asking for too much to demand that the Ministry;
make an apology to these journalists and the media outlets
We hope that sanity will one day prevail in Nigeria.