Nigeria Condemned Over Detention Christian Journalist
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Aid workers have condemned the detention of a Nigerian Christian journalist after he covered attacks against mainly Christian communities in Nigeria.
Luka Binniyat, who reports for the Epoch Times newspaper, was arrested November 4 and prosecuted at the ‘Barnawa Magistrate’s Court’ in Nigeria’s Kaduna State, Christians confirmed.
The reporter was charged under Section 24 (B) of the Cybercrimes Act with “transmitting electronically information known to be false,” Worthy News learned.
“As Binniyat has been charged with a federal offense, he could not be offered bail and must be tried in a higher court. If convicted, Binniyat could face a three-year prison sentence,” said Barnabas Fund, a Christian aid, and advocacy group.
Binniyat’s detention came after he critically covered attacks against Christians by Islamists in Nigeria’s troubled Middle Belt region and the government’s lukewarm response.
Barnabas told Worthy News that its partner in Nigeria views the journalist’s arrest as “aimed at silencing any dissenting voice.”
Authorities were “intimidating both Luka and southern Kaduna communities,” the Barnabas Fund contact added.
Luka Binniyat persistently challenged narratives of the Kaduna State government on issues of security and killings of Christians in southern Kaduna, according to Christian supporters.
The “false information” charge relates to Binniyat’s story on October 29 titled: “In Nigeria, Police Decry Massacres as ‘Wicked’ But Make No Arrests.”
In the piece, Binniyat quoted Senator Danjuma Laah as criticizing Kaduna’s Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan.
The senator reportedly accused the minister of concealing facts about a “genocide against Christians in the southern Kaduna State.”
In his report, Binniyat criticized police for failing to make any arrests after gunmen reportedly killed 35 people in two separate attacks on churches in the state on September 26.
The incidents underscored “numerous attacks” on Christian communities in Kaduna State, according to Barnabas Fund and other rights groups.
Binniyat said in comments shared with Worthy News that he has “written a lot about the plight of the people under the persistent attacks by Islamist Fulani militia groups.”
The reporter added that he “challenged the narratives of the Kaduna State government on the issues of security and the killings in southern Kaduna.”
Despite being arrested and questioned by security agencies on “several occasions,” he “remained resolute in challenging” Kaduna government’s information, said Barnabas Fund.
Angela Quintal, Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, urged the Nigerian authorities to “cease all legal proceedings against journalist Luka Binniyat.”
She asked the government to “release him immediately and reform the country’s laws to prevent the criminalization of journalism.”
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