Accra, March 2, 2023—In response to Nigerian authorities’ release of WikkiTimes publisher Haruna Mohammed Salisu on bail Thursday, following his arrest while covering national elections on February 25, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement calling for all charges against him to be dropped:
“The release of Nigerian journalist Haruna Mohammed Salisu on bail is welcome news, but he should never have been arrested in the first place, and authorities should stop pursuing criminal charges against him for his work,” said Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, in Nairobi. “Covering the public sentiment during elections, or any form of journalism, should never land a journalist in jail.”
On February 28, authorities charged Salisu with inciting the public to disturb the Bauchi state governor, according to his lawyer Idrees Gambo and Bauchi Attorney General Abubakar Abdulhamid Bununu, both of whom spoke to CPJ by phone. If convicted under Section 114 of the Nigerian penal code, Salisu could face up to three years in prison with a fine of 600 naira (around US$1.30), according to CPJ’s review of the code.
Police granted Salisu’s bail on Wednesday, March 1, on the condition that he provide a bond of 500,000 naira (US$1,085) and two sureties, including one from a director in the Nigerian Civil Service and a second from a leader of his local community, Gambo told CPJ, adding that the journalist was released after he met those conditions.
He is next due in court on March 13, his lawyer said.