Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room demands release of detained Al-Jazeera journalists

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Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room urges the Nigerian military and other security and law enforcement agencies to be mindful that global attention is focused on Nigeria at this critical point of the country’s democratic process. All military and security agencies must refrain from sending wrong signals that may suggest attempts to muscle the media from reporting the elections. These agencies should also refrain from any action, direct or indirect, that would impinge on the rights of voters, observers and the media.

In this regard, the Situation Room is concerned about the recent report that the military has confined two Al-Jazeera journalists, Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustapha, to their hotel rooms in Maiduguri on the pretext that they were ‘loitering’ around areas of the on-going military operations in North East Nigeria. The military reportedly claimed that the two journalists were interfering with the ongoing military operations in those areas.

The Situation Room calls on military authorities to immediately release the two Al-Jazeera journalists. The military and all other security agencies should recognize that the media, both national and international, must be allowed to undertake their reportorial responsibilities unimpeded. The ability of the media to cover the electoralprocess without intimidation or any other form of restriction is critical to the conduct of transparent and credible elections in Nigeria. The SituationRoom wishes to remind the military authorities that Nigeria has ratified a number of international and regional instruments protecting freedom of expression and media rights, which is also contained in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The Situation Room wishes to reassure the public that it is keeping a keen eye on every aspect of the electoral process to forestall any attempt at undermining the integrity of the process. The members of the public are requested to be vigilant, orderly and peaceful to ensure successful elections in Nigeria.

The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Enough is Enough Nigeria, Wangonet, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), CWAE. Others are Development Dynamics, Stakeholder Democracy Network, Human Rights Monitor, Election Monitor, Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, CITAD, CISLAC and several other CSOs numbering more than Sixty.

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