Nigerian police (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)
International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos, has condemned the harassment and molestation of WikkiTimes Publisher, Haruna Mohammed, and reporter, Idris Kamal, by the police in Bauchi State.
The ordeal of the two journalists of the online newspaper began on Monday, June 27, 2022, when they honoured an invitation from the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), following a petition by Yakubu Abdullahi, a member of the House of Representatives for Bauchi constituency concerning a May 18, 2022 report on the sudden death of All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman in Bauchi Local Council.
The newsmen arrived the station about 10a.m on Monday and were clamped into a cell after making a statement. They alleged that they were physically assaulted.
Despite the presence of their lawyer at the station, they were detained for about 10 hours and asked to report back yesterday for further interrogation.
The duo again reported at the SCIID, Bauchi, yesterday as directed, but were promptly taken before a Bauchi Magistrate Court and charged for criminal conspiracy, defamation of character and cyber-stalking. The court ruled that they should be held in custody until Wednesday (today), June 29, 2022.
In a statement, yesterday, IPC Communications Officer, Toyin Ayoade, expressed worry over the issue and called on the Bauchi police command to avoid being used as tools of harassment against journalists.
“Since the petitioner alleged defamation, the police should have, in the first instance, advised him to seek legal redress, instead of illegally detaining the journalists for 10 hours on Monday, June 27, 2022 and subjecting them to physical and mental harassment in the process,” said the Executive Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade.
He added that it behoves the police authorities in the state to ensure the safety of Mohammed and Kamal. Arogundade said journalists should not continue to be treated as endangered species in Nigeria, adding: “In all circumstances, the security agencies must always strive to toe the path of the rule of law in handling complaints or petitions against journalists and other media professionals, just as they should normally do for all citizens.”