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Nigerian journalist detained after reporting on "bring back our girls" protest

A student who escaped when Boko Haram rebels stormed a school and abducted schoolgirls, identifies her schoolmates from a video released by the Islamist rebel group at the Government House in Maiduguri, Borno State, 15 May 2014.
A student who escaped when Boko Haram rebels stormed a school and abducted schoolgirls, identifies her schoolmates from a video released by the Islamist rebel group at the Government House in Maiduguri, Borno State, 15 May 2014.

Reuters/Stringer

On 12 May 2014, the Nasarawa State command of the Nigeria Police charged the state correspondent of Daily Trust Newspaper, Hir Joseph, to the Chief Magistrate Court sitting in Lafia, the State capital, accusing him of publishing "injurious falsehood" contrary to section 393(1) of the State's penal code.

The First Information Report (FIR) filed by the police prosecutor, Mr. D. O. Abolanre, said the police "discovered that one Hir Joseph, a news reporter for the Nigerian Daily Trust Newspaper, with intent to injure or cast aspersion on the credibility of the Nigerian Police Force or achieve personal goals, falsely caused to be printed or reported on the Daily Trust...an article caption: 'Female NSCDC, Police Personnel Demand Rescue of Chibok Girls'."

The police FIR also claimed: "This he did with the aim to injure the credibility of the Nigeria Police or give the impression that Nigerian women police are against the wisdom of...the Federal Government of Nigeria or the Inspector General of Police in steps being taken for the rescue of the Chibok schoolgirls."

The police added that the reporter further injured the credibility of the state police command in his news report published in Daily Trust Newspaper of 11 May 2014 captioned "Police detained six female cops over save our girls protest" in Lafia.

The police – which docked Joseph at about 3:24pm local time – urged the court to remand him in custody arguing that if allowed freedom on bail, he might interfere with police investigations, as well as write similar news reports.

The team of lawyers who appeared for him, however, argued that it was a bailable offence and that he should be granted bail.

The Magistrate, Yakubu Eggah, granted him bail in the sum of N150,000 (about US $950), and a surety who must be a resident within the jurisdiction of the court. The State chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Daniel Yakubu, stood as a surety to bail him.

Joseph was initially detained in police custody at the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) when he reported there at 9am until 2:15pm before the Investigating Police Officer (IPO), Mr. Musa Akase, along with the prosecutor, took him on a commercial motorcycle to the court where he was docked.

The police had on 9 May 2014 arrested and detained Joseph for nine hours over his report of that day on the participation of policewomen in the street protests to free the teenage schoolgirls of Government Secondary School, Chibok, who were abducted by the Islamist terror group 'Boko Haram'.

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