Legal action has been taken to declare the Nigerian military’s detention of two Al Jazeera journalists as “illegal and unconstitutional.”
The Motion on Notice filed today in Abuja’s high court seeks the enforcement of Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa’s “fundamental rights to personal liberty and human dignity” under the Nigerian constitution.
It also seeks a court order for their immediate release from the “illegal military custody” that began on 24 March 2015.
The move comes as concern for the pair grew after they were denied access to their phones and contact with the outside world. Al Jazeera said it was extremely concerned about the situation and was seeking guarantees regarding the safety and wellbeing of their journalists.
It is hoped that the legal action will help bring an end to the impasse where Idris and Mustafa have been held by military forces in Maiduguri for no apparent reason for the last ten days.
Salah Negm, director of news for Al Jazeera English, said, “We want the military to bring this situation to a close, and call on all parties involved in this capture of our journalists to end this now. Nobody appears to be taking responsibility for this grave action and we hope this legal action will help to cut through the haze.”
The detention has been condemned by the Committee to Protect Journalists, the National Press Club, and the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of organisations working in support of credible and transparent elections.
Al Jazeera English is one of the most-watched news channels in Nigeria, with millions of viewers every day.
Idris is an experienced journalist who has over thirty years of broadcasting experience. He started working for the Adamawa Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in 1983. In 2006 Idris joined the BBC in Abuja and in 2007 until 2010 he was the Bureau Editor. Since 2010 Idris has served as a producer/reporter for Al Jazeera. In 2014 he was the first international journalist to reach Chibok and interview families affected by the mass kidnap of schoolgirls by Boko Haram.
Mustafa has been a cameraman with Al Jazeera since 2011. He graduated from the National Film Institute, Jos, Plateau State in 2000 as an Independent Film Maker, majoring in scripting producing and directing.