At least 14 journalists and media professionals were detained, harassed, or attacked while covering Nigeria’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
The 14 includes Haruna Mohammed Salisu, the owner of the private news website WikkiTimes, who is still being held by police without being charged, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists ( CPJ).
Police detained Salisu on February 25 in Duguri town, south-eastern Bauchi state, shortly after he and other reporters had met with the state governor, according to WikkiTimes editor Yakubu Mohammed.
Police said they took Salisu into custody to protect him after supporters of the governor attacked him as he interviewed local women protesting but refused to release him, according to Mohammed, who visited him after he was transferred to police headquarters in Bauchi, the state capital.
The local PRNigeria news site reported that police had “received a formal complaint that the journalist was inciting the electorate.” Salisu remained in detention as of Monday evening.
Private citizens, political groups, or security forces threatened, attacked, or seized at least 13 other journalists and media workers during the elections, according to CPJ interviews.
“Nigerian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release journalist Haruna Mohammed Salisu and bring to account all those responsible for intimidating and attacking at least 13 other journalists and media workers,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, from New York.
“Press freedom is an integral component of Nigerian democracy, and the media should be able to cover national polls without fear of reprisals.”
In other incidences, a group of men beat Dayo Aiyetan, executive director of the privately owned non-profit International Centre for Investigative Reporting. He tore his clothes and stole his phone and belongings after he filmed them disrupting the voting at a polling site in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
Aiyetan said one man tried to stab him, and he reported the attack to the local police. Some of his belongings were returned, including his phone, with content deleted.
Also, youth in Ibadan, Oyo state, attacked a vehicle from the state-owned News Agency Nigeria for covering the elections, one of the crew told CPJ. Yinka Bode-Are, a camera operator, was traveling with a reporter and driver when the vehicle was set upon with sticks and dented.