Court sets jailed Nigerian journalist free


By Muhammad Bah

An Abuja magistrate’s court today struck out a case against Jones Abiri, publisher and editor-in-chief of the newspaper, Weekly Source, saying the court does not have jurisdiction over the state where the alleged wrongdoing took place.

Abiri, who was detained without charge for over two years until his release last month, was accused of criminal intimidation for allegedly sending text messages demanding payment from two oil companies in Nigeria’s southern Bayelsa state.  It is not yet known if prosecutors plan to file new charges in Bayelsa state.

“Jones Abiri’s arrest, detention, and subsequent criminal prosecution is a stain on Nigeria’s press freedom record, but the court’s decision to end the case against him is an important and positive step,” CPJ’s Africa Program Coordinator, Angela Quintal says.

Nigerian journalist, Jones Abiri illegally detained by Nigerian Security Service since 2016.

In a separate legal decision on September 13, a federal high court in Abuja held that the Department of State Security’s detention of Abiri was illegal and violated his fundamental human rights. The court ordered the federal government to pay Abiri 10.5 million naira (US$29,000) in damages and litigation fees, according to Marshal Abubakar, a lawyer representing Abiri.


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