Officials of the State Security Service, Wednesday, said they would not release the journalists they arrested on Monday, unless the editor-in- chief of the paper surrenders himself.
Two journalists, an editor and a reporter, working with Al-Mizan newspaper in Kaduna, were abducted from their homes around 4 a.m. on Monday in Rigasa area of Kaduna. Their wives were manhandled while their homes were also raided by the security operatives.
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The SSS has now told senior journalists in Kaduna that unless the Editor-in-Chief of Al-Mizan, Awwal Ibrahim, surrenders himself, they would not release the two journalists, Aliyu Saleh and Awwal Musa.
A source, who is privy to ongoing attempts to get the reporters released, said that at a meeting Wednesday in Abuja with the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, officials of the SSS promised to release the reporters as soon as Mr. Ibrahim surrenders himself.
Mr. Ibrahim’s house was also raided by the security operatives at a time he was not at home. He has since gone into hiding.
The lawyer to the two journalists, Sadiq Marafa, who confirmed the demand by the SSS, also said though he prefers to “use private contacts to get the journalists released,” he is waiting for the constitutional 48 hours of arrest without prosecution to lapse before he deciding what action to take.
Mr. Marafa said he has not been allowed to see or speak to his clients.
“I only know that they are under the custody of the SSS in Kaduna, but I don’t know where they are kept and what is their condition,” he said.
Mr. Marafa said that the SSS also asked for a surety before the journalists are released, adding that the Chairman of Civil Liberties Organisation in Kaduna, Shehu Sani, agreed to stand surety for the reporters.
The lawyer also said the “houses of the two reporters were raided and searched without relevant warrants and they are also being kept without being informed of their offence nearly 48 hours after they are arrested, this is unconstitutional.”
” I am however confident they will be released today (Wednesday),” he added.
The SSS arrested the journalists after the Hausa language newspaper published a story about alleged abduction of 84 youth by the Joint Task Force in Yobe.
The secret service is yet to make an official statement on the arrest.