Al Jazeera demands release of staff detained in Nigeria

Ahmed Idris and producer Ali Mustafa were detained in their hotel room after returning from covering a story about the Nigerian troops fighting Boko Haram in Borno State.

The story, which was done in cooperation with the military, was part of the channel’s coverage on the Nigerian presidential election, which will take place on Saturday.

A military statement accused both men of “operating without protection, accreditation or due clearance”. However, both Idris and Mustafa are officially accredited by the Independent Electoral Commission in Abuja.

Both Idris and Mustafa are Nigerian nationals and were detained in their hotel rooms.

Clement Nwankwo of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre in Abuja said the military needed to be concious of the international focus on Nigeria during the election period.

“We hope this is just a misunderstanding,” he told Al Jazeera. “But restraining journalists from carrying out their duties for four days is going beyond misunderstanding,” Nwankwo said.

Idris, who has been with Al Jazeera since 2010, has more than 30 years of experience, and Mustafa has been a cameraman with the network since 2011.

An Al Jazeera spokesperson called on the Nigerian authorities to immediately release Idris and Mustafa.

“Al Jazeera is dismayed that the military have obstructed Al Jazeera from reporting on the ground … The continued detention of our staff without any reason is an attack on free media,” the spokesperson said.

The article first appeared on African Media Agency.

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