A journalist for the conservative newspaper The Epoch Times, focused on reporting on the persecution of Christians by Fulani jihadists, was illegally detained in Nigeria last week without any formal charges. “I fear for my life,” he said in a text message he wrote on a cell phone borrowed in prison.
As reported by Breitbart, Epoch Times’ journalist Luka Binniyat has been detained since last week after publishing an article quoting local lawmakers condemning President Muhammadu Buhari’s government for failing to protect Christians in areas where Fulani jihadists are targeting them.
The article quoted Kaduna Senator Danjuma Laah as accusing leader Buhari’s government of covering up a “genocide” by dismissing the attacks as a “clash,” a term that would imply that Christians were also engaging in violence, for which there is no evidence.
The story in question focused on the fact that police and military officials have not made any arrests a month after the horrific massacre of 38 unarmed men, women, and young children in the village of Madamai in Kaduna state on Sept. 26.
“I have not been informed of any arrest so far over the sad violence in Madamai last month,” police spokesman Mohammad Jaliga told Binniyat for the story published on Oct. 29 that probably led to the journalist’s arrest.
“If there is any arrest, we would celebrate well, and parade the suspects for the public to see so that they know that we cannot tolerate such acts of mischief in Kaduna state,” the police officer added.
For years Binniyat has been an active member of the civil society in his home state of Kaduna, where he worked as a journalist for Vanguard media, one of Nigeria’s leading newspapers.
Binniyat also currently serves as the official spokesperson for the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU). Through his professional performance and political activism, he has become well known in the region.
SOKAPU has often criticized the government of Governor Nasir El-Rufai for supporting bandits and Fulani herdsmen’s attacks on the Southern Kaduna people and creating an atmosphere of insecurity in the state.
The journalist has also not hidden his disagreement with Buhari’s government. Even in a Twitter post, he stated that “Nigeria is the ideal dream for opportunists, rogues in govt, con artists and crooks of all kinds of shades. The best.”
An African newspaper, Sahara Reporters, said Binniyat reportedly got a borrowed cell phone in prison. He wrote to the newspaper accusing the Kaduna State Commissioner of Internal Security and Internal Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, of ordering his arrest.
He also said he had already spent several days without a concrete charge and expressed fear for his life, claiming that he may be in danger. According to Sahara Reporters, he was reportedly transferred to a court in another locality after being subjected to “dehumanizing cell conditions” at the Gabasawa police station.