Luka Binniyat, a Nigerian Christian journalist and human rights activist who was imprisoned for reporting on massacres of Christians in his native Kaduna State, is free at last.
Binniyat had been held for 91 days in appalling conditions, and his family had serious concerns about his health.
Christian Solidarity International (CSI) has been campaigning for the journalist’s release, and on December 1 called on US President Joe Biden to intervene in the case with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
On February 3, Binniyat was finally released from detention, a week after he received bail. The charges against him have not been dropped, however.
Although the federal court handling his case granted the human rights activist bail on January 31, he remained in prison while his supporters worked to meet the bail conditions set by the judge.
For Binniyat to be released, two different individuals had to guarantee his bond. Each had to have more than one million naira (about 2,400 USD) in a bank account, and each had to present a certificate identifying them as a landholder in Kaduna State.
Killings of Christians in Kaduna
Binniyat’s detention on November 4, 2021 followed a report the Christian journalist wrote for the international newspaper “The Epoch Times” on October 29. In this article, Binniyat had described, among other things, the killing of four Christians in Kaduna State by Fulani Muslim militants on October 26.
In the article he claimed that the Muslim governor of Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai, had dismissed the attacks as a “clash between locals and some herdsmen”. El-Rufai had also refused to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Binniyat was then charged with a violation of the Cybercrime Prevention and Prohibition Act and jailed for three months.
CSI is calling for the dropping of the outstanding charges against Binniyat, all of which were related to his journalistic activities and transparently motivated by a desire to suppress reporting on the crisis in southern Kaduna.