Posted by Garba Ahmed, Kaduna | 15 July 2017 | 1,599 times
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has warned Kaduna State Governor, Nasiru El-Rufai against persecution of journalists in the state.
A Kaduna State High Court had on Wednesday remanded a former reporter with Vanguard newspapers, Luka Binniyat in prison over allegation of false publication brought before it by the Kaduna State Government.
Binniyat, who had been on medication, walked into the courtroom with the help of crutches to make appearance having sustained injuries from an accident.
Despite his illness, the presiding judge, Bashir Sukola ordered the remand of the journalist despite appeals from his counsel, James Kanyip.
Justice Sukola said the journalist should be remanded in prison custody till July 20 for ruling on the bail application filed by the journalist’s lawyer.
But a statement issued on Friday in Abuja by Shuaibu Usman Leman, NUJ National Secretary, the union described the Governor’s numerous actions as clearly aimed at his perceived political opponents which "ridiculously included the media."
Leman said that as a result of El-Rufai's intolerance for criticisms and aversion for the media, many journalists in the state were now being persecuted by the government.
The statement reads: “The government of Kaduna State, in its further drive to cage the media and muffle freedom of expression, had this week arraigned a Kaduna-based journalist, Luka Binniyat before a Kaduna State High Court charged with injurious falsehood and incitement. He was earlier charged to a Magistrate's Court for the same allegations, remanded in Prison custody before being granted bail.
“The High Court had equally remanded Luka Binniyat in Prison custody pending the hearing of his bail application next week.
“It will be recalled that Kaduna State government had issued a stern warning to journalists on the 28th of January this year, threatening of dire consequences if they file any story considered false by the State Governor.
“Recently some other journalists were taken to court by Governor Nasiru el Rufai, prominent of which included Midat Joseph of Leadership newspapers who was detained and charged to court for alleged injurious falsehood, plan for mass demonstration that will shut down Kaduna and public incitement. Others being hounded are Dickson Onjekwu of New Nigerian newspapers and Gabriel Idibia of The Union newspapers.
“El-Rufai’s numerous actions are clearly aimed at his perceived political opponents which ridiculously include the media. As a result of his intolerance for criticisms and aversion for the media, many journalists in the state are now being persecuted by the Government. We are terrified by the remanding of Binniyat in prison custody because of his health challenges. He had an accident and came to court on clutches to answer the summons but instead of being in hospital, he is now behind bars.
“The NUJ will hold Governor Nasiru el-Rufai fully responsible if anything mysterious happens to Binniyat in prison.
“This development calls for concern because the government of el Rufai rode to power on the formidable use of the media and therefore it cannot now turn round to want to instruct journalists on how to do their jobs. Certainly the Governor cannot make untoward rules for journalists outside their extant Code of Practice. Journalists should not be used as scapegoats to cover up for his numerous gaffes.
“We advise the Governor to desist from having journalists arrested, detained and taken to court for writing stories and reports on the crisis in Southern Kaduna, which he feels do not reflect the thinking of the State Government. The problems of Southern Kaduna can never be resolved through threats and intimidation by the Kaduna State Government on journalists. Rather, we suggest that he should appeal to the media to help mobilise citizens to appreciate the benefits of peace and peaceful coexistence.”
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