On March 24, 2015, Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa, two Nigerian correspondents of the Doha-based satellite television channel, Al Jazeera, were arrested questioned and detained by the Nigerian military officials. They had their equipment seized and then detained in their hotel rooms in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, for allegedly operating without “protection, accreditation or due clearance”.
They were detained in their hotel room after they returned from covering the Nigerian forces fighting Boko Haram in the state. According to Al Jazeera, they had “just completed filming with the cooperation of the military”.
Al Jazeera has demanded their release “without conditions” saying that both of them have been officially accredited by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja to report on the forthcoming elections from anywhere in Nigeria during the entire election period.
In a statement on 25 March 2015, an Al Jazeera spokesman said: “We call on the Nigerian authorities to release Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa; they have all the relevant paperwork to report on the Nigerian elections and stories related to the election. Both men had just finished filming a story on the military with their cooperation. They were not ‘loitering’, but were in the hotel room and had only passed through the restricted areas of Yobe and Borno State to get to Maiduguri.”
“Both men are accredited and respected Nigerian journalists. As Nigerian citizens they are allowed to travel their country freely. Al Jazeera calls on the authorities to end this matter swiftly by returning all their equipment and releasing both men without conditions.”
The two journalists are part of four Al Jazeera English teams reporting on the 2015 general election in Nigeria.
Idris and Mustapha were set free from their hotel room in Maiduguri where they had been detained on April 5, 2015 and they returned to Al Jazeera’s bureau in Abuja.
Salah Negm, director of news for Al Jazeera English, said “We’re pleased for Ahmed and Ali that their ordeal is over. They’re looking forward to spending some time with their families and loved ones.”
“I know that both of them want to thank everyone that helped secure their release, including NGOs, politicians and fellow journalists,” he added.