Teams Condemn Conviction of Journalists in Nigeria Over Report on Pot Use at Politicians Manufacturing facility


Two organizations condemned the convictions of two journalists in Nigeria who have been arrested in 2019 after they uncovered pot smoking at a enterprise related to a high-ranking politician. Whereas Nigeria is the world’s third-highest consumer of cannabis, in keeping with the New Zealand Ministry of Well being, the plant is prohibited within the nation. Some view it as a double normal for officers and commoners.

The Eagle reports that the Committee to Shield Journalists (CPJ) and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) condemned the conviction of two younger Nigerian journalists, Gidado Yushau and Alfred Olufemi over an investigative report. CPJ, an unbiased, nonprofit group that promotes press freedom worldwide, described the conviction as “a chilling message to the Nigerian press.” The Eagle referred to as it an “inglorious try to muzzle the press and investigative journalism in Nigeria.”

Yushau serves as editor of The News Digest and is Convener of the annual Campus Journalism Awards (CJA), whereas Olufemi is a contract journalist with bylines in Premium Times and Punch, two Africa-based newspapers. It’s not the publications’ first dance with hazard: Premium Instances, for example, uncovered crimes reminiscent of these focusing on girls and civilians allegedly dedicated by Boko Haram.

Each journalists have been arrested and charged in court docket in 2019 after they wrote an investigative report exposing the prevalence of pot smoking by workers, a Kwara, Nigeria-based rice manufacturing unit, which is related to Hillcrest Agro-Allied Industries. Why is that vital? Hillcrest Agro-Allied Industries is linked to a high-ranking official: Presidential Financial Adviser Sarah Aladea, who previously served as Deputy Governor of the Central Financial institution of Nigeria (CBN).

Group leaders fear that the arrests have a political motivation. On Feb. 7, Adams Salihu Mohammed, a Justice of the Peace in Ilorin, Nigeria, ordered the journalists to be held for 5 months in jail or pay a steep positive of N100,000—every—for the alleged crimes of “defamation and conspiracy.” They ended up paying the fines to keep away from jail through the trial.

A Chilling Message to Journalists in Nigeria

Sadly, it doesn’t seem that the journalists can be supplied with a good trial in keeping with their authorized counsel.

“There was proof earlier than the trial court docket that the police report which purportedly indicted our shoppers got here into existence even earlier than they have been invited by the police,” Barrister Ahmed Ibraheem Gambari, an legal professional representing one of many journalists, mentioned after they have been convicted. In different phrases, the police deemed them responsible of the “crime” lengthy earlier than they have been allowed to share their very own aspect of the story. The journalists’ claims have been backed by former workers of the rice manufacturing unit, who mentioned that it’s widespread to smoke pot throughout work.

“Additionally, an ex-employee of the corporate testified earlier than the court docket that he was not solely a witness to how smoking of Indian hemp pervaded the location however equally, it was the persistent smoking of the Indian hemp that knowledgeable his resolution to sever his employment with the corporate,” Gambari mentioned. “What’s extra, so as to set up the verisimilitude of his assertion, the identical witness tendered his financial institution assertion evidencing the receipt of his month-to-month salaries from the corporate through the interval when smoking was prevalent. It, due to this fact, stays a conundrum of how the court docket discovered them responsible within the face of this empirical proof amongst others.”

CPJ’s Africa program coordinator based mostly in New York, Angela Quintal, mentioned that the 2 ought to by no means have been charged, not to mention convicted. “The telecom surveillance used to deliver the journalists into custody, adopted by a greater than three-year-long trial, demonstrates the lengths Nigerian authorities will go to arrest and prosecute the press,” Quintal said.

Worldwide human rights courts and UN organizations have repeatedly denounced using prison sanctions for “defamation.”

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