Nigeria slammed with $2,778 fine over detained reporter

By Rafiu Ajakaye

LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – A Nigerian court has slapped the government with a fine of $2,778 over the unlawful detention of a journalist.

Federal High Court judge Nnamdi Dimgba said the two-year detention of journalist Jones Abiri constituted "a grave violation of his fundamental human rights".

Abiri, who works for a local news tabloid in the oil-rich Bayelsa state, was arrested and detained for two years without a trial by the country's secret police, sparking a nationwide outrage.

He was eventually released a few weeks ago.

The police cited "national security" as the basis for their action — a justification the federal judge dismissed as "totally untenable" in law.

"Having taken his statement, the applicant should have been charged," according to the judge.

Although the fine is nowhere near the $556,000 originally demanded by Abiri, the ruling represents a significant rebuke to the Nigerian government as it came barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari said the country's national security is above the rule of law.

Human rights bodies have claimed that hundreds of Nigerians have been detained for years without standing a trial, contrary to the country's laws.