Nigeria religious police assault journalists

Four representatives of the Kano State Hisbah Board, a local security agency set up to enforce its interpretation of Sharia law, on August 27, 2016, assaulted two journalists from private broadcaster Express Radio, according to news reports. The religious police were angry that Express Radio correspondent Abdullahi Isa brought two female journalists–Hauwa Musa Abdullahi, a reporter with the radio station and Saudat Yakubu Abdullahi, a student doing an internship with the station–with him to cover a reading of love-themed, Hausa-language novels at the Kano International Trade Fairground in the state capital, Kano, according to news reports.

The Hisbah representatives were present to ensure women were not at the event, which was organised to entertain fans of a popular radio programme hosted on Express Radio called “Rai Dangin Goro,” which features dialogue that includes mimicry of female voices by the male presenter, and which local journalists told CPJ is mostly listened to by women. The Hisbah Board initially prevented the event on the grounds that it would breed immorality. The board later permitted the event, but on the condition that only men attend, news reports said.

The independent Daily Trust newspaper reported that Isa told the Hisbah officials that they were not participants, but journalists on assignment. “I then asked them if there was any law banning journalists from covering certain events, but instead of responding to my question, they attacked me,” Isa told the newspaper.
Isa told CPJ he sustained injuries to his hand after the men beat him with their hands and sticks. Isa said that before police intervened, a Hisbah official also pushed Saudat Yakubu Abdullahi to the floor, bruising her arm, for refusing to hand over the audio recorder she used to record the assault on him. Isa said the Hisbah officials have not returned his mobile phone or Saudat’s audio recorder.

Nasir Ahmed Karaye, Express Radio’s head of news and current affairs, accused the Hisbah officials of seeking revenge on the station for its report alleging the Hisbah board improperly detains young women it suspects of “immorality,” according to news reports. The radio station sued three Hisbah officials before a Sharia court in Kano on August 29 over the alleged assault on its staff. The suspects denied the charges of assault, while Hisbah authorities requested an out-of-court settlement, the reports said.