Nigerian authorities should drop all criminal charges against journalist Jacob Onjewu Dickson and release him without delay, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Dickson has been held in pre-trial detention on incitement charges since Friday.
Police invited Dickson, a reporter for the news website Authentic News Daily, to the Kaduna State Police station on Thursday to discuss an April 27, 2016, news report Dickson wrote that cited witnesses as saying youths had pelted the state governor with rocks as he tried to broker a peace between residents of two adjacent neighborhoods. Police arrested Dickson after questioning him at the station in the central Nigerian town of Kaduna on Friday, according to news reports. Police took the journalist to the Kaduna Magistrate Court, charged him with incitement, and returned him to custody the same day, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) told CPJ. His trial is scheduled to begin May 12, the NUJ said.
Neither the police commissioner nor the inspector general of the Kaduna State Police answered repeated calls from CPJ seeking comment.
Nigerian Minister of Culture and Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed on Friday delivered an address on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari to a meeting of the Federation of African Journalists hosted by the National Union of Journalists in Abuja in which he stressed the importance of a free media and boasted that “not a single journalist is being detained or harassed in our country today,” according to press reports.
“President Muhammadu Buhari should not let state officials make a mockery of his laudable commitments to press freedom even as he utters them,” said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. “We call on state officials to drop the charges against Jacob Onjewu Dickson and release him without delay.”