Two Al Jazeera journalists have been under strict detention by the Nigerian military since March 24th, SaharaReporters learned through an official Application for The Enforcement of the Applicants’ Fundamental Rights it read. The Application names the Chief of Army Staff and the Nigerian Army as the respondents.
The journalists, Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustapha, were first detained by the Nigerian military while reporting in Borno State last week. The military kept them under tight control in the city of Maiduguri, a representative at the Committee for the Protection of Journalists told SaharaReporters.
The journalists have since been moved to Abuja, according to this Application.
The Application, submitted by human rights and constitutional lawyer Femi Falana, argues that the detention of these journalists violates Sections 34 and 35 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Falana argues that the human rights guaranteed to Mr. Idris and Mr. Mustapha are being violated because “the Applicants are not soldiers and as such the Respondents have no power to order their arrest, the circumstances of the detention are unlawful under the Nigerian Constitution and African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the Applicants’ personal liberty and freedom of movement are being denied.”
The Application added that “the charges of loitering and wandering are not offenses known to Nigerian law,” as Major General Chris Olukolade argues.
The Application orders the release of Mr. Idris and Mr. Mustapha by the Nigerian Army.
While speaking with a representative for the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, he told SaharaReporters that “it is unfortunate that a supposedly modern democracy will allow the military to abuse the freedom of press in such a way” and that “the behavior of the Nigerian military is still similar to that which it had during the military dictatorship, even after all these years.”