Nigerian journalists detained for investigating alleged water theft

Police and officials from the Benue State Water Board detained Pius Iroja Angbo, a correspondent with the independent Channels Television, and cameraman Mike Umele, for roughly four hours on May 18, 2016, Angbo told the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The two were held after water officials found the journalists recording video showing what Angbo said were men affiliated with water-authority employees drawing water from a broken pipe across from the authority’s offices to sell it in the state capital, Makurdi.

In the video, which CPJ reviewed, a man who Angbo said works for the water authority threatened the journalists and attempted to seize their camera.

Angbo told CPJ that when he sought a reaction from the water authority’s management to allegations of wrongdoing on the part of his staff, Mike Zungu, the board’s general manager, threatened to kill Angbo and told police to detain him and Umele for refusing to delete the video they had taken.

After one hour at the offices of the water authority, police took Angbo and Umele to the Benue State police headquarters, where they were detained in an effort to get them to delete the video, Angbo told CPJ. The two refused to delete the video, and after three hours, Paul Yakadi, commissioner of police for Benue State, released them with their camera and the footage they had taken intact, Angbo said.

In a telephone call with CPJ, Zungu accused Angbo of not having sought permission from the water board before filming but denied having threatened him. Yakadi told CPJ he was aware of the case but said he was not aware of any threat to Angbo’s life.