SSS releases 2 detained journalists

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Two Nigerian journalists, whose paper published a report of alleged abuses by troops battling Islamist extremists were arrested and held for eight days by State Security Service, SSS, one of them said, yesterday, after their release.

The editor of Al-Mizan, Musa Awwal, and reporter Aliyu Saleh were on Tuesday released by SSS, Awwal said.

In raids on December 24, SSS operatives picked up the journalists, along with their wives and Saleh’s son, from their homes in Kaduna State, where the regional newspaper has an office. Their wives and the son were released later that day.

“We were released, yesterday afternoon from SSS headquarters in Abuja, where we were kept after our arrest,” Awwal said.

“Throughout our detention, we were not told our offence, but they still have our mobile phones and laptops, which they said would be returned to us as soon as they are done with investigation.”

Awwal said they were manhandled while being arrested, but not abused while being held in custody.

The SSS declined to comment on the arrests.

The newspaper said it believed the pair had been held in connection with a story it published on the arrests of 84 people in the town of Potiskum by soldiers on suspicion of belonging to Islamist extremist group, Boko Haram.

The detainees’ families were reportedly denied access to them.

Al-Mizan, established in 1991 and published in the Hausa language spoken throughout Nigeria’s north, is run by the Shiite organisation Islamic Movement of Nigeria.

Residents and human rights bodies have accused troops of abuses, including arbitrary arrests and killings of civilians, in connection with Boko Haram’s insurgency in Nigeria’s northern and central regions.

Violence linked to the insurgency is believed to have left some 3,000 people dead since 2009, including killings by the security forces.

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