Two Al Jazeera journalists covering the upcoming Nigerian presidential elections have been detained by government forces in the city of Maiduguri in Borno state.
Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa, both Nigerian nationals, remain confined in their hotel room and their equipment confiscated after being questioned by the military officials on Tuesday.
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The Nigerian military has said that the journalists were operating without “protection, accreditation or due clearance”, and confirmed that the two journalists remain officially detained until further notice.
The two journalists were detained while reporting on the Nigerian forces fighting armed group Boko Haram as part of Al Jazeera’s special coverage on the upcoming elections.
Al Jazeera has demanded the release of two of its journalists “without conditions”.
The network said that both Idris and Mustafa are officially accredited by the Independent Electoral Commission in Abuja with the clearance to report from anywhere in Nigeria during the entire election period.
“We call on the Nigerian authorities to release Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa; they have all the relevant paperwork to report on the Nigerian elections and stories related to the election”, an Al Jazeera spokesman said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Both men had just finished filming a story on the military with their cooperation. Both men are accredited and respected Nigerian journalists”, the statement read.
The military statement also said that both men were said to be ‘loitering’ in various locations, however they were actually detained in their hotel rooms.
Their detainment drew condemnation from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“Nigerian authorities and the military should understand that the credibility of the election is dependent in large part on the media, both local and foreign, being allowed to report freely,” said Peter Nkanga, CPJ’s West Africa representative.
“We call on the military to release Ahmed Idris and Mustafa Ali from their hotel, return their camera, and allow every journalist the freedom to document the electoral process before, during, and after the vote.”