Committee to Protect Journalists Calls Bauchi Govt to Drop Case Against WikkiTimes Publisher

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the Bauchi State Government to drop its charge against Haruna Mohammed Salisu, publisher of WikkiTimes, following his conditional release five days after he was arrested and kept in custody for covering elections in Duguri, Alkaleri local council.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative in Nairobi said: “In response to Mohammed’s release, noting that the journalist should never be arrested for reporting electorates’ sentiments.”

“The release of Nigerian journalist Haruna Mohammed Salisu on bail is welcome news, but he should never have been arrested in the first place, and authorities should stop pursuing criminal charges against him for his work,” Mumo said.

WikkiTimes had earlier reported that police operatives arrested Haruna on the order of Bala Mohammed, Bauchi State Governor in his hometown, Duguri.

He was arraigned before a magistrate court on Tuesday after being detained in police custody for 72 hours.

CPJ added: “On Tuesday, February 28, the state government charged Mohammed with inciting the public to disturb the Bauchi state governor, where if convicted under Section 114 of the Nigerian penal code, he could face up to three years in prison with a fine of N600.”

“Ahmad Musa, the presiding magistrate, ruled that the publisher be remanded in the correctional centre and adjourned the case to the following day (Wednesday) for judgement on the bail application read by the defendant’s counsel Barrister S. G. Idrees.

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“In his ruling, the presiding judge granted Mohammed bail on the condition that he provide a bond of N500,000 and two sureties, including one from a director in the Nigerian Civil Service and a second from a leader of his local community.

“Haruna Mohammed was released on Thursday evening after he met the conditions and was expected to return to the court on March 13.”

However, Mumo, insisted that journalism should never be a crime and that all charges against Haruna should be dropped. “Covering the public sentiment during elections, or any form of journalism, should never land a journalist in jail,” said Mumo.


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