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We Won’t Drop Suit Against Military – Al-Jazeera Journalists

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The two Al-Jazeera journalists detained on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 by the Nigerian military for allegedly loitering in areas where counter-insurgency operations were taking place in Borno State have said they will continue the pursuance of the law suit filed against the Nigerian Army, seeking damages for an infringement on their fundamental human rights.

The two journalists – Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustapha – were released on Saturday, April 4, 2015 by the Nigerian military.

Speaking on Monday, April 6, 2015, lawyer to the pair, Femi Falana said the suit has already been filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Falana said: “I am in touch with my clients – the journalists and the management of Al Jazeera – they thanked Nigerians for their support and they have instructed me to go to court to ask for damages.

“On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, armed soldiers arrested Messrs Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustapha-two Al Jazeera journalists in Maiduguri, Borno State. The Army authorities justified the arrest by claiming that they were “loitering” in an unauthorised place. They were restricted to a hotel room in Maiduguri surrounded by armed gendarmes. Our demand for the immediate release of the journalists from military custody fell on deaf ears.

“However, following the institution of a fundamental rights application at the Federal High Court at Abuja to secure the immediate release of the journalists last week, the Army authorities hurriedly transferred them to the Department of State Service. Yesterday, the DSS set them at liberty without any conditions.

“They have since regained their freedom.

“As neither the Armed Forces Act nor the constitution permits the Nigerian Army to arrest and detain journalists or non military persons for that matter, the violations of the fundamental rights of Messrs Idris and Mustapha to liberty and dignity and freedom of movement for over a week cannot be justified under the law.

“Since both journalists are Nigerian citizens they are entitled to public apology and compensatory damages payable by the Nigerian Army by virtue of section 35(6) of the Constitution which states as follows:

‘Any person who is unlawfully arrested and detained shall be entitled to compensation and public apology from the appropriate authority or person; and in this subsection, ‘the appropriate authority or person – means an authority or person specified by law’.”

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