A group of 11 journalists is being detained by the Canadian government for their scheduled Monday trip to Nigeria. They have until Monday evening to decide what to do. They have not been charged, and are being held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. They are Nigerian but have been conducting training and other non-reporting work in eight countries for the past three months.
The journalists are part of a group called Global Witness, which highlights corruption and other abuses in the oil, mining and gas industries. Their trip was supposed to conclude with a 10-day tour of the countries where they have been working. The group was traveling to Jigawa, to cover a recent report on an oil company there.
Mandy Reddy, one of the Global Witness’ journalists, told Al Jazeera’s Africa program Africa Check that it’s “unacceptable” that the police had been trying to intercept the group on their connecting flight. “When we landed at the airport, they cordoned us off from the main terminal and were preventing us from leaving.”
In a statement, Global Witness confirmed that the group was not charged with any crime, and was waiting for the approval of the government on whether or not they can leave. After asking the team, the group’s planning manager, Shaun-Jo Wilson, tweeted: “Canvassing Canadian ministers and the PMO to ensure their safety & a pathway to release — we await an urgent response.”
Canvassing Canadian ministers and the PMO to ensure their safety & a pathway to release. — Shaun-Jo Wilson (@shawnderlan) June 18, 2018
The team has now been in detention for six days. They were initially told to report back to their hosts at the airport on the 6th, but they are now reportedly “banging on the door,” hoping to be let out soon.
Global Witness reported last week that the committee has “overstayed its visa” but that the team’s passports have not been taken or seized.
President Donald Trump’s U.S. government is also undertaking a travel ban against a number of African countries, including Nigeria, a country that has been hit hard by Ebola and a key ally of the U.S. in the war against Boko Haram.