Abuja, February 4, 2022 — In response to the release on bail Thursday of Luka Binniyat, a Nigerian freelance reporter for the U.S.-based news outlet The Epoch Times, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement calling for the charges against him to be dropped:
“While Nigerian journalist Luka Binniyat’s release on bail is a welcome development, he never should have been detained in the first place, and the charges against him should be dropped without delay,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in New York. “His ongoing prosecution on cybercrime charges and the stringent requirements for his bail are stark examples of how journalism continues to be criminalized in Nigeria.”
Authorities detained Binniyat on November 4, 2021, as CPJ documented at the time. He is facing charges under Nigeria’s Cybercrimes Act for allegedly distributing false information.
For his bail, Binniyat was required to provide a bond of 1 million naira (US$2,402) and two sureties by people who live in and own land in Kaduna state, which were approved by the prosecutor’s office, according to the journalist and his lawyer, Ehizogie Imadojemu, both of whom spoke to CPJ via messaging app and in phone interviews.
If convicted, Binniyat could face up to three years in prison and a fine of 7 million naira (US$17,049), Imadojemu said.