Al Jazeera urges Nigeria to release detained staff

Al Jazeera calls for the release of Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa who were detained one week ago while covering elections.

    Both men are Nigerian nationals and accredited by the Independent Electoral Commission in Abuja
    Both men are Nigerian nationals and accredited by the Independent Electoral Commission in Abuja

    Al Jazeera has again called on Nigerian authorities to release two of its staff who have been held by government forces for a week.

    Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa were detained on March 24 as they prepared to cover Nigerian forces fighting Boko Haram as part of the network's special coverage of Nigeria's elections.

    A military statement accused both men of "operating without protection, accreditation or due clearance," however both journalists had earlier finished a story with the full cooperation of the Nigerian military.

    Both men are Nigerian nationals and accredited by the Independent Electoral Commission in Abuja, with clearance to report from anywhere in the country.

    The military statement also accused the men of "loitering" in various locations, however they were actually detained in their hotel rooms.

    Al Jazeera is demanding the immediate release of the two journalists.

    A spokesperson for the network said: "It has now been a week since our colleagues were detained. No explanation has been presented to us stating why they have been detained and what will happen next.

    "Both Ahmed and Ali are officially accredited to report on the election and election related issues and had worked on a story with the full cooperation of the Nigerian military.

    "As Nigeria is on the cusp of a democratic civilian transition, we call on the Nigerian authorities to release Ahmed and Ali.

    "Detaining two respectable journalists without any reason is unacceptable. They should be released immediately."

    The detention of the men has been condemned by the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of organisations working in support of credible and transparent elections.

    Idris is an experienced journalist with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience and has been with Al Jazeera since 2010. Mustafa is a cameraman who has been with the network since 2011.

    Al Jazeera is one of the most-watched news channels in Nigeria, with millions of viewers every day.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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