Samira Sabou
Nigerien journalist Samira Sabou was arrested by four unidentified men at her home in Niamey on September 30, 2023. Her whereabouts are unknown. (Photo courtesy of Abdoul Kader Nouhou)

Niger journalist Samira Sabou arrested by unidentified men

Dakar, October 2, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists called for the immediate release of Nigerien online journalist Samira Sabou after her arrest by unidentified men on September 30.

“The Nigerien authorities must urgently identify the men who arrested journalist Samira Sabou on September 30 and ensure her immediate release and safety,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, from Durban, South Africa. “This arrest deepens CPJ’s concerns about the working environment of Nigerien journalists and their ability to inform the Nigerien public without fear of reprisal.”

On Saturday, four men in plainclothes arrested Sabou, who regularly posts news and commentary on her Facebook page, at her mother’s home in Niamey, the capital, according to news reports and Abdoul Kader Nouhou, Sabou’s husband, who spoke to CPJ over the phone. Nouhou, who was present during the arrest, said one of the men showed him a card, but refused to show his name.

The men took Sabou to an unmarked vehicle and placed a hood over her head, then returned to the house and took her phone before driving away, Nouhou told CPJ. He said he did not know where Sabou was taken, and the Niamey judicial police had denied arresting her.

On July 26, soldiers overthrew Mohamed Bazoum, Niger’s democratically elected president, and installed a military government called the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP). On August 25, CPJ joined at least 79 organizations and journalists in calling on Niger’s military authorities to protect the rights and safety of journalists. The joint letter noted an intimidating call Sabou received on August 4 from a member of Niger’s military over her coverage of Bazoum.

In January 2022, the Niamey High Court sentenced Sabou to a one-month suspended prison sentence and a fine for “defamation by an electronic means of communication” related to coverage of drug trafficking issues in Niger. She was also jailed in 2020 on cybercrime charges over a post on her Facebook page about an audit of Niger’s military.

Editor’s note: The third paragraph was updated to correct the location of the journalist’s arrest.