Journalist charged after reporting on attacks against Christians in Nigeria
A Nigerian journalist faces prolonged detention allegedly for his reporting about attacks against predominantly Christian communities in Nigeria and the government’s response.
Luka Binniyat, a Nigerian Roman Catholic journalist and father who writes for the anti-communist Epoch Times, was arrested last week. On Tuesday, Binniyat was arraigned at the Barnawa Magistrate’s Court in Kaduna state. He was charged with cyberstalking, a charge that critics say is often used in the African country to silence the media.
On the 4th of November Binniyat informed Epoch Times Africa Desk Editor Doug Burton that he was arrested and urged the editor to “contact all relevant persons.” Burton elaborated on the circumstances leading up to Binniyat’s arrest and the dangers he faces in an interview with The Christian Post.
Burton attributed Binniyat’s arrest to an article he wrote titled “In Nigeria, Police Decry Massacres as ‘Wicked’ But Make No Arrests.” The article is part of The Epoch Times’ coverage of the deadly persecution of Christian farming communities in the African country that human rights advocates say have escalated to near “genocidal levels” in recent years as thousands have been killed.
In the article, Binniyat pushed back on Kaduna’s Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan’s characterization of an attack on Christian farmers in the state as a “clash.”
The Nigerian government has long refuted claims by human rights activists that a religious genocide is taking place in Nigeria’s Middle Belt states, where radicals from the Fulani herding community have been accused of invading countless Christian farming communities. The government has long attributed attacks and reprisals as being part of decades-old farmer-herder clashes.
In his article, Binniyat included a quote from a Nigerian senator, who accused the Kaduna government of “using Samuel Aruwan, a Christian, to cause confusion to cover up the genocide going on in Christian Southern Kaduna by describing the measure as a ‘clash’” as opposed to a targeted act of violence against Christians.
“What he [Binniyat] did there is he showed that the commissioner was projecting a false narrative,” Burton explained. “For this reason, I think the authorities, though they knew they would get pushback for prosecuting a dissident journalist, they decided they had to do it because … they want to shut his voice down.”