The Burundi authorities should immediately and unconditionally release four journalists and their driver arrested on October 22, 2019 while they were on a reporting trip to Bubanza Province for Iwacu newspaper, Human Rights Watch said today.
The journalists had informed authorities of their plan to travel to the area to report on an outbreak in fighting between Burundian security forces and a group of assailants. But a police chief of operations arrested them while they were doing their jobs, Iwacu said in a statement on its website.
“Journalists play a vital role shedding light on incidents of public interest and should not be prosecuted for legitimate work,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should reverse the current crackdown on media freedom and, as a first step, immediately release the journalists and their driver who are being detained for doing their jobs.”
As the 2020 elections approach next year, it is a source of great concern that the government continues to suppress the media and prevent journalists from doing their work, Human Rights Watch said.
Since the morning of October 22, social media accounts and exiled media organizations have shared reports of fighting near Kibira natural reserve, in Bubanza province, where the journalists were headed. The rebel group RED-Tabara (Mouvement de la Résistance pour un État de Droit au Burundi; Resistance Movement for the Rule of Law in Burundi), which was created in 2016 and operates in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, claimed responsibility on Twitter for the attack.
According to an SOS Médias Burundi report, the administration and security forces confirmed that 20 people were kidnapped – and later released – and that a policeman was killed. The Public Security Ministry said in a tweet that 14 “criminals” were killed.
The four journalists – Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Egide Harerimana, and Térence Mpozenzi – and their driver, Adolphe Masabarakiza, were arrested in Musigati around midday and are being held in the Bubanza police station. On October 23, they were questioned by a judicial police officer at the police station in the presence of their lawyer. According to Iwacu, they have not yet been charged.
The government pressure on the news media has been growing. The National Communication Council (CNC) suspended the Voice of America (VOA) in May 2018 and renewed the suspension in March. It also withdrew the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) operating license in March, who closed down their office in Burundi in July. These draconian moves were among a series of government attempts to prevent the world from knowing about serious human rights abuses happening in Burundi.
The suspensions of both the BBC and the VOA began weeks before a controversial constitutional referendum in 2018, banning any journalist in Burundi from “providing information directly or indirectly that could be broadcast” by either the BBC or VOA.
Weeks earlier, the CNC had suspended Iwacu’s online comments section. At that time, Human Rights Watch found that Burundi’s security services and ruling party youth league members had killed, raped, abducted, beat, and intimidated suspected opponents in the months leading up to the referendum.
Scores of other Burundians have disappeared since a political crisis began in Burundi in April 2015 over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term. In many of these cases, the authorities make no efforts to identify people who have disappeared or to investigate when bodies resurface. The few independent journalists who remain put their lives on the line to uncover the truth, Human Rights Watch said.
Jean Bigirimana, a journalist with Iwacu, has been missing since July 2016. Unconfirmed reports indicated that intelligence service members arrested Bigirimana in Bugarama. Many other journalists are in exile.
“Journalists who have remained in Burundi are fighting hard to ensure that the world remains informed of situation on the ground,” Mudge said. “But by trying to cut off the supply of information at the source, the government is trying to operate without scrutiny or transparency.”
Lagos govt. approves full reopening of churches, mosques
The Lagos state government on Saturday approved the full reopening of worship centres in the state.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who announced this during a briefing in the state said churches are now allowed to observe their mid-week services, while the mosques are also allowed to carry out their five times a day prayer routine, with strict compliance to COVID-19 safety protocols.
“We must not forget that the coronavirus pandemic is still very much with us, and we must, therefore, strive to prioritize the safety of all our children, teachers, parents, and the entire society,” the governor said.
Before now, the state had allowed for a gradual re-opening of places of worship as lockdowns eased.
With the full re-opening now, the governor has urged Lagosians to continue to act responsibly and maintain the required levels of hygiene.
Some other parts of the world have witnessed a resurgence of COVID-19 infections and rising possibilities of “hard lockdowns”, which according to Governor Sanwo-Olu may become inevitable for Nigerians if caution is not applied.
“Let me make it clear that if we do not continue to maintain our guard, and sustain the adherence to all required protocols and guidelines, we will find ourselves in a situation where fresh lockdowns are inevitable,” he warned.
“The only way to avoid this is to continue to act responsibly: maintain the required levels of hygiene, through regular handwashing and use of sanitizers, wear masks in all public places, avoid non-essential public gatherings, and maintain the prescribed levels of physical distancing at all times”.
The total infections in the country have now risen to 56,956, with 48,305 patients recovered and 1,094 deaths recorded.
At the onset of the virus in Nigeria, Lagos became the epicenter, gapping other states with its case load despite frantic efforts to curb the spread.
However, in recent times, other states such as Plateau have started to witness a surge with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 stating that it might become the new epicenter in the country.
Photos: Oyo deputy gov. donates patrol motorcycles to security operatives
The deputy governor of Oyo state, Engr. Raufu Olaniyan on Friday made a personal donation of patrol motorcycles to security operatives in Oke Ogun area of the state to boost their role of ensuring the safety of lives and properties.
Speaking at the event, Olaniyan noted that Security is one of the cardinal objectives of the present administration headed by Governor Seyi Makinde, adding that the government has invested massively to provide facilities and equipment for security operatives in the state to perform their roles.
Speaking further, the deputy governor remarked that ” In the light of the security challenges in the country, it is imperative that we support the government in tackling this malady. It was therefore a delight for me to donate patrol motorcycles, from my purse, to the various security outfits operating in the Oke Ogun area of our state.”
He stressed that security matters should be the responsibility of all and not the government alone.
Olaniyan, however , urged well meaning individuals and lovers of peace to support the government in creating a safe and conducive environment for growth.
Yorubas will resist arrest of proponents of Oodua Republic – Group
Groups under the aegis of Yoruba Frontier Movement (YFM) on Thursday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to resist from using security agencies to harass, intimidate or arrest proponents of Oodua Republic.
YFM in a statement made available to journalists by its National Coordinator, Comrade Abdulkabir Adesina and National Secretary, Aderemi Adisa condemned the plan by security agencies to arrest proponents of Oodua Republic, saying that such action will only lead to breakdown of law and order.
The statement read, “We have received reports that there are plans by security agencies to arrest proponents of Oodua Republic headed by Chief Sunday Igboho. We are using this medium to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to order security agencies to desist from such attempts because proponents of Oodua Republic are operating within the ambit of the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The group wondered why proponents of Oodua Republic have become the target of security agencies while Fulani herdsmen and bandits have remained untouchable.
“We should even go down memory lane. President Muhammadu Buhari while desperately seeking to become Nigeria’s president made many inciting statements capable of bringing anachy into the country but ex- President Jonathan never ordered for his arrest. On many occasions northern youths and elders have made similar inciting statements and heaven didn’t come down. As a matter of fact we have been calling for restructuring of Nigeria for a very long time.The failure of government to restructure Nigeria is the reason why we are calling for Oodua Republic. Yorubas have suffered greatly since the amalgamation of the country in 1914 owing to injustice against Yoruba race in Nigeria. As a race we have every right to demand for our right to either stay with Nigeria or go our separate ways”, the statement added.
It further lauded Chief Sunday Igboho for taking the bull by the horn, saying that Yorubas are fully in his support.
“We are using this medium to call on traditional rulers, Obas , leaders and all Yoruba sons and daughters to support the proponents of Oodua Republic”, the statement concluded.
Tweets by @megaiconmagg
Subscribe to our Newsletter
MegaIcon Magazine Facebook Page
Politics4 days ago
2023: APC to embark on fresh membership registration as Oyo Unity Forum returns
Opinion6 days ago
Why Is Ajimobi’s Mausoleum A Subject Hypocritical Outrage? | By Maroof Asudemade
Politics3 days ago
Oyo 2019 governorship elections, a failed project for Adelabu?
Education3 days ago
Ibadan Poly sacks chief lecturer over alleged sexual misconduct