Journalist Arrested By Army In Maiduguri Regains Freedom

New Salary Scale Has Not Been Approved For Armed Forces – DHQ
A file photo of troops.



A journalist reporting for Daily Trust Newspaper, Omirin Olatunji, has regained his freedom hours after he was whisked away by personnel of the Nigerian Army in Borno State.

Olatunji was picked up at about 4:40pm on Thursday while hanging out with colleagues at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) along Lagos Street in Maiduguri, the state capital.

Channels Television gathered that the arrest was carried out by two plain cloth army personnel and a soldier in camouflage carrying an assault rifle – AK 47.

The reporter was handcuffed in the presence of other journalists and dragged into a waiting car without offering explanations after which the vehicle zoomed off.

Confirming the arrest, Borno NUJ said the military authorities in the state contacted them that Olatunji had been arrested and was on his way to the barracks.

The spokesperson for the 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Colonel Ado Isa, also told Channels Television that the Theatre Commander was having talks with the leadership of the NUJ with a view to resolving the impasse.


A Trample On Dignity

Following the reporter’s release, the NUJ condemned Olatunji’s arrest in a statement, saying the military’s action was detrimental to the operation of free democracy.

It also described it as a trample on the dignity of professional journalists, saying the arrest was a repeat of a similar incident about the same time in 2019.

The statement was jointly signed by the NUJ chairman and secretary in the state, Bulama Talba and Mohammed Ibrahim, respectively.

It read, “We the members of the Pen profession in Borno State have been and will continue to live up to our responsibilities of informing the government and citizens on happenings as a way of promoting the safety of all and improve living conditions at all times.

“The union members from various media have been, with all sense of responsibility, carrying out duties to put issues in the right perspectives for proper agenda-setting by government and the military and mobilising the citizenry to support programmes and operations that follow,  which Olatunji Omirin has been doing remarkably well.

“NUJ feels it is quite unfortunate that this is happening now when we all need to be on the same page to move our country from armed conflict to peaceful resolutions of disputes for development to thrive instead of playing into the wishes of elements that promote discord in the nation.

“We can do better by calling concerned media organisations, NUJ, as well as other stakeholders for regular interactions on finding common ground on the way forward beyond this modus operandi.”

Morocco Jails Youtuber, Detains Journalist

Vice Principal Gets Life Imprisonment For Raping 12-Year-Old In Ekiti
File Photo


A Moroccan YouTuber was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for “insulting the king” in a video broadcast on social networks, his lawyer said.

In a separate case, a Moroccan journalist and activist was charged and detained over a tweet that had criticised a court decision, his defence council told AFP.

The cases come after the Moroccan Human Rights Association had deplored in July an “escalation of violations of human rights and public and individual freedoms” in Morocco.

The YouTuber Mohamed Sekkaki, known as “Moul Kaskita”, was sentenced by a court in the western city of Settat to four years in prison, his lawyer Mohamed Ziane told AFP.

Sekkaki, whose videos usually exceed 100,000 views, was arrested in early December after posting a video in which he insulted Moroccans as “donkeys” and criticised King Mohammed VI, whose is considered “inviolable” under the constitution.

Ziani said his client would appeal the verdict.

The conviction of the YouTuber came less than a month after a Moroccan rapper was sentenced to a year in prison for “insulting a public official”.

Also on Thursday, journalist Omar Radi, 33, was detained in Casablanca and now faces trial, his lawyer Said Benhammani told AFP.

He is being prosecuted for a tweet published nine months ago criticising the judge in charge of the case against the leaders of the Hirak protest movement, he said.

Morocco’s criminal code punishes “insulting magistrates” with imprisonment of between one month and one year.

The group Reporters Without Borders in its latest annual press freedom index ranked Morocco 135th out of 180 countries.

Morocco Pardons Journalist Jailed For Abortion

Morocco Rejoins African Union


Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on Wednesday issued a royal pardon for journalist Hajar Raissouni, overturning a court sentence for an “illegal abortion” and sexual relations outside marriage, the justice ministry said.

The 28-year-old will walk free “in the coming hours”, while sentences handed down to her fiance, gynaecologist, anaesthetist and a medical assistant were also overturned, an official told AFP.

Morocco Journalist Gets 1-Year Jail For ‘Illegal Abortion’

Vice Principal Gets Life Imprisonment For Raping 12-Year-Old In Ekiti
File Photo


A Rabat court on Monday sentenced Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni to one year in jail for having had an “illegal abortion” and sexual relations outside marriage.

Her gynaecologist was sentenced to two years and her Sudanese fiance one year in prison, while an anaesthetist was handed a one-year suspended sentence and a medical assistant eight months, also suspended.

Lawyers for 28-year-old Raissouni had called for her acquittal during the trial, denying she had had an abortion.

A journalist for Akhbar Al-Yaoum — an Arabic-language newspaper which has a history of run-ins with the authorities — she was sentenced under Article 490 of Morocco’s legal code.

That article punishes sexual relations out of wedlock, while the law also forbids all abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger.

Raissouni was arrested on August 31 as she left a clinic in Rabat.

In court, she denied having had an abortion and said she had been treated for internal bleeding — testimony backed up by her gynaecologist.

The journalist denounced a “political trial”, saying she had been questioned by police about her family — including an uncle who is an outspoken Islamist newspaper columnist — and about her own writing.

The prosecution insisted she had been seen by a medic and showed signs of pregnancy and of having undergone a “late voluntary abortion”.

It had contended her detention had “nothing to do with her profession as a journalist”.

Abducted Wife Of Nasarawa Journalist, Others Regain Freedom


The wife of a member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Nasarawa State, Mrs Yahanasu Abubakar, and three other women who were abducted have been released.

They were abducted on Wednesday after gunmen attacked their vehicle along the Gudi-Garaku road in Akwanga Local Government Area of the state while they were on their way to Lafia, the capital.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Abduct Journalist’s Wife, Three Other Women In Nasarawa

The gunmen said to be over 30, were said to have shot at the vehicle conveying the women from Keffi, where Yahanasu had gone to register for the Batch A Corps at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp.

They shot sporadically in the air few, metres from a police checkpoint and forcefully made away with the women.

While it is not yet clear if a ransom was paid to secure their release, the Chairman, NUJ Correspondent Chapel, Mr Suleiman Abubakar, confirmed the development to Channels Television.

Gunmen Abduct Journalist’s Wife, Three Other Women In Nasarawa


The wife of a member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Nasarawa State, Mrs Yahanasu Abubakar, and three other women have been abducted by gunmen.

Mr Suleiman Abubakar, who is the Chairman of Correspondents’ Chapel of NUJ in the state, confirmed the incident to Channels Television.

He said the women were abducted by the gunmen following an attack on Wednesday evening along the Gudi-Garaku Road in Akwanga Local Government Area on their way to Lafia, the state capital.

According to Abubakar, the assailants shot at the union’s bus conveying the victims from Keffi, where his wife had gone to register at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp.

He explained that their bus ran into a ditch after they were chased by gunmen numbering more than 30.

READ ALSOMan Gets Death Sentence For Killing Ex-Deputy Governor’s Daughter

The journalist added that the gunmen shot sporadically in the air few metres from a police checkpoint and forcefully made away with his wife and the other women into the bush.

The other victims included the wife of a former member of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, whom they had given a lift, as well as two other women from another vehicle.

Abubakar said the gunmen have demanded N5 million from him before his wife would regain freedom.

The State Police Command has also confirmed the incident to Channels Television.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Samaila Usman, said the command had already mobilised officers to the area for a search and rescue operation.

Outrage In Ghana Over Death Of Investigative Journalist

Ghanaian Flag

A Ghanian undercover journalist who helped expose corruption in African football has been shot dead in the capital, triggering widespread outrage and demands for authorities to bring his killers to justice.

Ahmed Husein, 34, was gunned down as he returned to his home in the Madina area of Accra on Wednesday night.

The reporter was part of a team led by award-winning journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, whose probe last year led to the resignation of the head of the Ghana Football Association and the banning of dozens of football referees and officials.

Last year Husein filed a complaint with police after a prominent lawmaker from President Nana Akufo-Addo’s ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) threatened him, once calling on television for supporters to beat Hussein while showing the reporter’s photograph.

Police said Husein was shot in the chest and neck. Anas and his Tiger Eye production company said the gunmen fired at close range from a motorbike and he died instantly.

Media organisations and journalists in Ghana on Thursday called for more protection and demanded the government fully investigate.

“We… are terribly devastated by the dastardly act but remain unshaken in our resolve to pursue nation-wreckers and make corruption a high-risk activity,” said Anas.

President Nana Akufo-Addo sent his condolences to Husein’s family and condemned the killing.

“I expect the police to bring to book, as soon as possible, the perpetrators of this heinous crime,” he said in a statement.

Information minister Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah told reporters violence against journalists would not be tolerated but the government is likely to come under pressure over the killing.

The murder of a journalist is unusual in Ghana, which ranked 23rd out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2018 World Press Freedom Index — up three places on the previous year.

But the revelations about corruption in football rocked Ghana, a country where football is the national sport and which prides itself on being a stable democracy in an often turbulent region.

The president of the Ghana Journalists Association, Affail Monney, said Husein’s killers “must be made to face the full rigours of law”.

He also called on Akufo-Addo to get to the bottom of the killing and urged parliament to “take necessary actions” to improve media and public safety.

“This killing, in addition to rampant assault against journalists in recent times, sends a worrying signal that the media are under serious attack,” he told a news conference.

 Previous threats 

International media watchdog the Committee for the Protection of Journalists called for an immediate investigation and for the authorities “to ensure that threats against the press are taken seriously”.

Husein had made the complaint to police after NPP party member Kennedy Agyapong showed his photograph on a private television channel and promised payment for supporters who took attacked him.

“That boy that’s very dangerous, he lives here in Madina. If he comes here, beat him,” Agyapong said, pointing to a picture of Husein’s face.

In the undercover investigation into football corruption, Agyapong’s name was also mentioned by implicated sporting officials.

Husein’s lawyer, Kissi Agyabeng, said the member of parliament had questions to answer.

Agyapong himself rejected claims that he “engineered the killing” of Husein, telling local radio station Neat FM: “He has never offended me.

“So, they should go and investigate those he has offended not me. He and his boss (Anas) have offended so many people in this country.

“The evil they have been doing will follow them.”

 Media freedom 

RSF has previously condemned threats against Anas after he revealed “threatening calls, intimidation messages and suspicious vehicles near his home”.

The reporter, whose other exposes have lifted the lid on graft in the judicial system, is distinctive for wearing hats and face-coverings to conceal his identity.

World governing body FIFA last October banned former Ghana FA boss Kwesi Nyantakyi for life and fined him nearly $500,000 (439,000 euros) after he was seen on camera accepting bribes.

Nyantakyi was accused of requesting $11 million to secure government contracts.

Eight referees and assistant referees were banned for life while 53 officials were subject to 10-year bans. Fourteen officials were exonerated.


Investigative Journalist Murdered In Ghana


A Ghanaian undercover journalist who helped expose corruption in African football has been shot dead in the capital Accra, police said Thursday.

Ahmed Husein was part of a team led by award-winning journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, whose probe led to the resignation of the head of the Ghana Football Association.

Dozens of football referees and officials were also banned.

A police spokesperson told AFP the journalist was shot in the neck and the chest by unknown gunmen on his way home on Wednesday night.

Confirming the incident, Anas tweeted: “Sad news, but we shall not be silenced. Rest in peace, Ahmed.”

READ ALSO: Church Attacked In Ghana Over Pastor’s Doom Prophesy

Prior to his death, Husein had made a complaint to police after his pictures were published on national television.

Ghana’s national media regulator condemned the killing and called on the police to conduct a thorough investigation.

“It will be in the national interest to arrest the perpetrators of this crime,” the commission’s chairman Yaw Boadu Ayeboafo said in a statement.

Ghanaian journalists condemned the killing of the 34-year-old reporter, who was instrumental in the international football corruption investigation which broke last year.

Football’s world governing body FIFA last October banned former Ghana FA boss Kwesi Nyantakyi for life and fined him nearly $500,000 after he was seen on camera accepting bribes.

Nyantakyi was accused of requesting $11 million (9.3 million euros) to secure government contracts.

Eight referees and assistant referees were banned for life while 53 officials were subject to 10-year bans. Fourteen officials were exonerated.

The revelations rocked Ghana, where football is the national sport and which prides itself as being a stable democracy in an often turbulent region.

Trump Slaps Down Journalist For ‘Stupid’ Question

US President Donald Trump (R) gets into a heated exchange with CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (C) as NBC correspondent Peter Alexander (L) looks on during a post-election press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on November 7, 2018.


President Donald Trump instructed journalists Friday to show more respect in the “sacred” White House and moments later angrily refused to answer a reporter’s question because it was “stupid.”

The latest clash between the president and the press corps assigned to cover him followed a meltdown on Wednesday when Trump lashed out at a star CNN reporter as a “terrible person” and had him barred from the White House.

In Friday’s incident, Abby Phillip, also from CNN, asked Trump whether he wanted his new attorney general to hold back an explosive probe into allegations that the president’s 2016 election campaign colluded with Russian agents.

The topic has been one of the main headlines in Washington since Wednesday when Trump abruptly fired Jeff Sessions as attorney general and named Matthew Whitaker, who has strongly criticized the Russia probe, to replace him. Critics have accused Trump of placing an ally who will try to muzzle special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Trump, speaking just before leaving for an international gathering in Paris to commemorate World War I, refused to answer Phillip.

“What a stupid question that is, what a stupid question. But I watch you a lot. You ask a lot of stupid questions,” he said, shaking a finger at the journalist, then walking away.

Moments earlier he’d defended his decision to bar CNN reporter Jim Acosta following their exchange at Wednesday’s press conference, saying that Acosta “is a very unprofessional guy.”

Asked how long Acosta will be denied the credential allowing him to work inside the White House, Trump said he hadn’t decided and seemed to indicate that the extremely unusual sanction could be applied to more journalists.

“It could be others also,” he said.

Trump went on to refer to another reporter, April Ryan, who works for American Urban Radio Networks and CNN, as “a loser” and “very nasty.”

The president said that the bad blood between him and the media was the fault of journalists showing insufficient deference.

“When you’re in the White House, this is a very sacred place to me. It’s a very special place. You have to treat the White House with respect. You have to treat the presidency with respect,” he said.


‘It Was Hell’, Freed Japanese Journalist Narrates Syria Kidnap Ordeal

Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda, who had been kidnapped in Syria, is pictured after his release in Hatay October 24, 2018. Photo: Huseyin BOZOK / DHA / AFP

A Japanese journalist who was held in Syria for more than three years before being freed this week has described his lengthy captivity as “hell.”

Jumpei Yasuda was freed earlier this week and taken to Turkey, where Japanese government officials confirmed his identity before announcing Wednesday that he was free.

He boarded a plane bound for Tokyo on Thursday, speaking briefly to journalists in an interview broadcast by Japanese media.

“It was hell,” he said, sporting a long beard peppered with grey hair.

“Not only physically, but mentally as well. The thought each day that ‘I’m not being released today either’ left me losing control over myself bit by bit.”

Yasuda, who is expected to arrive in Tokyo on Thursday evening, spoke calmly but appeared slightly overwhelmed and tired, if otherwise healthy.

“For about 40 months, I have not spoken a word of Japanese. Words don’t come to my mind easily,” he said.

“I am happy that I am returning to Japan. At the same time, I have no idea what will happen now and how I should conduct myself. I am at loss and don’t know what to think.”

Yasuda was kidnapped in Syria in June 2015 and was reportedly initially a hostage of the group previously known as the Al-Nusra Front, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

But the group’s current iteration, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, denied any involvement in his kidnapping in a statement earlier this week.

There was only sporadic news of Yasuda throughout his captivity, including a bizarre video that emerged in August showing him and a man identified as an Italian called Alessandro Sandrini.

Both men appealed for their release, dressed in orange jumpsuits, as masked, armed men stood behind them.

Yasuda gave his name as Omar and described himself as South Korean, but his wife Myu confirmed that it was her husband in the video.

The video did not identify who was holding the men or what their demands were. There has been no word on the fate of Sandrini since.

Yasuda told journalists he believed he was held for all of his captivity in Idlib, a province in northwestern Syria that is one of the last parts of the country still held in part by rebels and jihadists.

The details of how Yasuda was freed have remained murky, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, saying a ransom was paid.

But Japan’s government has denied that.

In 2015, militants from the Islamic State group beheaded Japanese war correspondent Kenji Goto and his friend Haruna Yukawa in Syria.

The Japanese government was criticized for what detractors saw as its flat-footed response to the crisis at the time, including apparently missed opportunities to free both men.

But other Japanese hostages who have been freed and made it home safely have also faced heavy public criticism for what some have deemed reckless behavior.


UN, Britain Demand Punishment Of Those Behind Khashoggi’s Death

Turkey Widens Khashoggi Search, Quizzes Consulate Staff
In this file photo taken on December 15, 2014, general manager of Alarab TV, Jamal Khashoggi, looks on during a press conference in the Bahraini capital Manama. Jamal Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist who has been critical towards the Saudi government has gone missing after visiting the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, the Washington Post reported.


The UN chief, Britain’s foreign ministry and media groups on Saturday called for the punishment of those who ordered and carried out Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing in Istanbul.

Here are a few reactions:


“The Secretary-General stresses the need for a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstances of Mr Khashoggi’s death and full accountability for those responsible,” Antonio Guterres’s office said in a statement.


“We send our condolences to Jamal Khashoggi’s family after this confirmation of his death. We are considering the Saudi report and our next steps. As the Foreign Secretary has said, this was a terrible act and those responsible must be held to account,” the foreign ministry said.

Reporters Without Borders

“Any attempt to get rid of the pressure on Saudi Arabia and to accept a compromise policy would result in giving a ‘license to kill’ to a Kingdom that puts in jail, lashes, kidnaps and even kills journalists who dare to investigate and launch debates,” Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of the Paris-based media rights watchdog tweeted.

Turk-Arab Media Association

The Istanbul-based body, of which Khashoggi was a member, said it wanted all those involved in the plot — right up to the highest rung — to be punished.

“We demand that not only the 18 men but those who commanded (the killing) are punished,” said Turan Kislakci, the head of the association, speaking outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.


“The killing of Jamal Khashoggi reminds us of the need to fight for press freedom, which is essential to democracy. Accountability for these crimes is non-negotiable. I urge the relevant authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into this crime and bring its perpetrators to justice,” UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay said.


Trump Sends U.S. Diplomat To Saudi Arabia Over Missing Journalist


US President Donald Trump said on Monday he is sending his top diplomat to Saudi Arabia after Saudi King Salman told him in a phone call that he has no idea what happened to missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened ‘to our Saudi Arabian citizen,'” Trump said in a tweet, adding he was “immediately sending” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with the king.

Trump has taken a cautious position since the disappearance of Khashoggi — a Washington Post contributor and critic of powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Trump has threatened “severe punishment” should proof emerge to back claims that Saudi agents killed Khashoggi and disposed of his body.

However, the US president has repeatedly made clear that he will not risk billions of dollars in deals to sell weapons to the kingdom, which is a strategic ally in the tinderbox Middle East.

Following days of mounting tensions, Saudi officials were allowing Turkish investigators to enter the consulate on Monday.

A Turkish diplomatic source said it was expected that the search, to be conducted jointly with Saudi authorities, would “take place towards the evening.”

Lurid claims have appeared in Turkish media, including that Khashoggi was tortured and dismembered. However, the Turkish leadership has so far refrained from pointing the finger directly at Riyadh in public comments.

The controversy has troubled Saudi Arabia’s traditional Western allies — many of the arms suppliers to the kingdom — and also undermined efforts by the prince, Mohammed, to present himself as the modernizing future of the kingdom.

An investment conference is seen as a platform for the crown prince, due to take place next week in Riyadh and dubbed “Davos in the Desert,” has been hit by a string of prominent cancellations.

Business barons including British billionaire Richard Branson and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, as well as media powerhouses like Bloomberg and CNN, have pulled out of the Future Investment Initiative (FII).

In major new twin blows to the credibility of the event, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Ford chairman Bill Ford also canceled plans to attend, CNBC reported.

In Washington, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, is coming under pressure after having spearheaded the administration’s strategy to forge close ties with Mohammed.

But US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday that he still plans to attend the Saudi conference.

“If more information comes out over the next week, I will obviously take that into account,” he said.