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Military Restrains Loitering Aljazeera Journalists From Restricted Areas

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Chadian and Nigerien troops are in charge of security and protection of the border town of Damasak in Borno State according to dictates of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) establishing the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) against terrorism in Nigeria’s north east, a military source has told PRNigeria.

This is as Nigerian Defence Headquarters announced the restrain of two unaccredited Al Jazeera journalists to their hotel rooms after they were found loitering around operational areas of the north east.

The clarification became necessary in view of a trending speculation in major international media that another 400 children and women were kidnapped and led away by Boko Haram terrorists while fleeing from Damasak recently liberated by Chadian and Nigerien troops.

The military personnel who spoke with PRNigeria wondered how fleeing terrorists who were pounded by Nigerian Air Force aircraft before being overwhelmed by forces from the two MJTF participating troops would pack over 400 individuals along with them in the process.

“Although we are not officially responding to such baseless assertions because it has become normal for some interests to manufacture something so that their media will have something negative to report about Nigeria. It is nevertheless important to let them know that troops from Niger and Chad have been in charge of protecting that town and we wonder how they would have allowed Boko Haram the luxury of such mass kidnapping?

“Were the abducted individuals herded away on foot or packed in trailers or small trucks?”, the source wondered.

Meanwhile, two journalists working for Aljazeera Television who were found to have been loitering around restricted areas where military operations are ongoing in the North East have been restrained in Maiduguri.

In a statement published on defenceinfo.mil.ng, the Defence Headquarters stated that “the journalists, Ahmed Idris and Mustafa Andy who were noted to have been moving around various locations including restricted areas in Yobe and Borno State were also operating without any protection, accreditation or due clearance.

They were accordingly monitored by military intelligence operatives until they eventually had to be restrained to their hotel in Maiduguri. This followed the increasing suspicion that their activities were aimed at interfering with the ongoing military operations in the area.

The motive, activities and some material in possession of these individuals are being investigated.   It will be recalled that foreign journalists have earlier been cautioned against unauthorised and unprotected movements around the military operations area. This warning is hereby reiterated until formally reversed or lifted.

Appropriate arrangements will however continue to be made to assist duly cleared journalists to cover activities in the mission area within the limits of adequate safety, security and necessary procedures.

The Nigerian military which believe in the press freedom is more concerned about safety of journalists operating in Nigeria and would endeavour to avoid unnecessary controversy in other climes especially when some Al Jazeera journalists were tried and jailed in Egypt for aiding terrorism during the turbulent days of Islamic Brotherhood’s reign in the country.

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