Nigeria authorities must investigate detention of journalist Jamil Mabai by religious police: CPJ News
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Nigeria authorities must investigate detention of journalist Jamil Mabai by religious police: CPJ

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged Nigerian authorities on Monday to investigate the detention of journalist Jamil Mabai in Katsina, Nigeria by officials of the Katsina State Hisbah Corps, a religious police force, and hold responsible parties accountable.

According to the CPJ, Mabai went to the office of the Katsina State Hisbah Corps to interview their spokesperson on a shooting incident. However, officials in the office detained Mabai, confiscated his phone and threatened to beat him. Mabai wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that he could not find the spokesperson he requested an interview with when he arrived at the office. He also stated that the officials claimed that they were instructed to detain him, although he told the officials that detaining a journalist without reasonable grounds violates freedom of the press. He was afterward released after an hour of detention.

Head of CPJ’s Africa program Angela Quintal highlighted the importance of holding responsible parties of Mabai’s detention accountable. Quintal said:

Nigerian authorities must credibly investigate this harassment of journalist Jamil Mabai, hold those responsible to account [] and ensure journalists can do their work without fear of detention … Mabai’s detention by religious police is part of a pattern of press freedom violations in Nigeria, where journalists are all too often arrested, harassed [] and intimidated while trying to carry out their professional duties.

The Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) also condemned the arrest of Mabai. The CWPPF wrote, “Arbitrary arrest[s] and detention[s] of journalists in the course of their work not only violates the basic principles of democracy but also represents a disregard for the rule of law and is a violation of [] people’s right to access information.”

Nigerian journalists are frequently monitored, arbitrarily arrested, attacked and killed. Previously on February 22, the CPJ said that Nigerian authorities must comply with a federal high court judgment that ordered them to investigate and appropriately punish all attacks against journalists. Quintal said, “Investigations that deliver justice for slain or attacked journalists would be a demonstration of political will on the part of Nigeria’s government to improve press freedom in the country.”