From Gyang Bere, Jos
The International Committee on Nigeria (ICON) has described as unfortunate and unjust the persecution and bitter experience of Luka Binniyat, a reporter with Epoch Times newspaper, over his report on the killings of Christians in Southern Kaduna.
ICON said that Binniyat, who was remanded in prison by a Magistrate Court in Kaduna State, was doing his job professionally.
The group, in a press statement signed by Lawrence Zongo, Country Correspondent, called for intervention for the release of the reporter.
‘Christians in Nigeria are being massacred and the Nigerian government must respond. Specifically, Christians in southern Kaduna have continued to suffer attacks by Fulani militants, bandits and kidnappers which are beyond mere clashes,’ the statement read.
‘Luka Binniyat was reporting what he believed to be the truth, which should be protected by the Nigerian constitution in a so-called democratic society. His quotes were not threatening nor were they defamatory as he reported an ongoing crisis in southern Kaduna.
‘Yet, Senator Danjuma Laah and Commissioner Samuel Aruwan felt threatened and decided to exert their authority to stop Luka’s freedom of speech. Neither the US Newspaper (Epoch Times) nor the African desk editor (Douglas Burton) was contacted or notified, rather the police were mobilized and Luka was tried and jailed – without bail.’
Zongo called for adequate and proper investigation of the attacks against Christians by suspected Fulani bandits in Southern Kaduna.
He urged the government at all levels to stand against criminal activities across the country and stop emboldened them from carrying out evil acts.
‘There is a noticeable fear that cases like Luka’s will avoid adequate dialogue and proper investigation on the attacks against Christians by Fulani militants. Rather, the Federal, State and Local government would be emboldened to use whatever means they have at their disposal to silence her critics.
‘Luka knows first how Fulani militants have murdered thousands of defenceless Christians, and his aim was to report the truth. Kaduna State, along with the Nigerian government, has not been able to quell this crisis nor bring key perpetrators to book, thereby stifling peace and justice.
‘ICON defends Luka Binniyat’s free speech as it advocates to help the oppressed and minority groups in Nigeria. ICON also argues that a destabilized and crisis-ridden Nigeria has a negative impact on development, international security, and the stability of the entire region.’