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French journalists detained, thrown out of restive state

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA, 7 Feb. 2011 - Two journalists working for a French television station were detained in the Nigerian city of Jos by members of the military, interrogated, and eventually ordered to leave Plateau State, the Associated Press reported today.

TFI journalist Jeremie Drieu and his local colleague Ahmad Salkida were in Jos to report on the recent unrest there. They were detained on Sunday by soldiers who took them to a command center where the pair faced “increasingly hostile interrogation”, AP reported.

A military spokesman told AP that the journalists did not have proper clearance, although Drieu had received accreditation from the Information and Communications Ministry, according to AP.

The journalists' interrogators reportedly asked why they had not interviewed the local governor. "They considered when you go to a place, you have to interview the governor,” Drieu told AP.

“We condemn the intimidation of journalists working in Nigeria, whether they are local or foreign,” said IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills. “Officials should not be telling reporters what they should and should not cover. Nor should they be detaining, interrogating or throwing them out of cities for not toeing the line.”

Meanwhile, journalists covering the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital, have been locked out of the press centre where their personal equipment, including laptops, cameras and other devices are kept, according to local reports. The area is used as a stop-over for travelling officials, and journalists covering the area attend press briefings or conduct interviews there, journalists told IPI. Media workers are reportedly unhappy that despite having accredition or having applied for accreditation, they are being blocked by security and protocol officers.

CNN's Lagos office was visited in January by members of the State Security Service, who asked for proof that all staff members were legally registered in the country, CNN said on its website. At the time of the visit, CNN had been reporting on widespread protests against a fuel subsidy cut.

Two journalists have been killed in Nigeria since the start of the year. Enenche Akogwu, of Channels TV, was killed while covering the aftermath of a terrorist attack in Kano city on 20 January, while Nansoh Sallah of Highland FM was found murdered on 19 January, in Jos.

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