On 24 March 2015, Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa, two Nigerian correspondents of the Doha-based satellite television channel, Al Jazeera, were arrested, questioned and detained by Nigerian military officials. They had their equipment seized and then were detained in their hotel rooms in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, for allegedly operating without “protection, accreditation or due clearance.”
They were detained after they returned from covering the Nigerian forces fighting Boko Haram in the state. According to Al Jazeera, they had “just completed filming with the cooperation of the military.”
Al Jazeera has demanded their release “without conditions” saying that both of them have been officially accredited by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja to report on the forthcoming elections from anywhere in Nigeria during the entire election period.
In a statement on 25 March 2015, an Al Jazeera spokesman said: “We call on the Nigerian authorities to release Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa; they have all the relevant paperwork to report on the Nigerian elections and stories related to the election. Both men had just finished filming a story on the military with their cooperation. They were not ‘loitering’, but were in the hotel room and had only passed through the restricted areas of Yobe and Borno State to get to Maiduguri.”
“Both men are accredited and respected Nigerian journalists. As Nigerian citizens they are allowed to travel their country freely. Al Jazeera calls on the authorities to end this matter swiftly by returning all their equipment and releasing both men without conditions.”
The two journalists are part of four Al Jazeera English teams reporting on the 2015 general election in Nigeria.