CCPJ continues to call for Niran Malaolu's release in Nigeria

Monday, September 28, 1998

CCPJ continues to call for Malaolu's release

On 28 September 1998, the Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists (CCPJ) sent via courier over 215 letters signed by Executive Director Wayne Sharpe and other members and supporters of the CCPJ to Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, calling for the immediate release of Niran Malaolu, Editor of "The Diet" newspaper. In the covering letter, CCPJ also expressed its concerns for two other journalists, Okina Deesor of Radio Rivers, who was detained in July 1996, and Chinedu Offoara of "The Guardian" last seen in May 1996, when he was taken into custody. Please copy this letter or write your own letter based on this information and send it to the Nigerian leader at the address below.

General Abdulsalam Abubakar
President of the Provisional Ruling Council
State House
Abuja, Nigeria

22 September 1998

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists, I am writing to strongly protest the continued detention of Niran Malaolu, Editor of "The Diet" newspaper, who is serving a 15-year sentence in prison for reporting on a coup. While we are very happy to hear of the release of Chris Anyanwu of "The Sunday Magazine", Ben Charles Obi of "Weekend Classique", Kunle Ajibade of "TheNews", George Mbah of "Tell", and other journalists such as Babafemi Ojudu of "Tempo" and "The News" and Moshood Fayemiwo of "Razor", we remain deeply concerned about the fate of journalists such as Malaolu who remain in detention.

Malaolu was originally sentenced to life imprisonment on 28 April by the Special Military Tribunal (SMT) which tried persons allegedly involved in a coup plot the government claimed to have uncovered on 21 December 1997, had his sentence reduced to 15 years in prison by the Provisional Ruling Council (PRC). The PRC commuted the sentence after deliberating on the verdicts of the Special Military Tribunal (SMT), headed by Major-General Victor Malu, which tried the alleged coup plotters.

Malaolu was arrested on 28 December 1997 along with three of his colleagues at "The Diet". The three others were later released, but Malaolu was arraigned on 14 February 1998 along with 27 others at the inauguration of the Special Military Tribunal. He was convicted of "information gathering" and implication in the alleged December 1997 coup plot.

I'd like to point out that Malaolu's case is eerily similar to the one that sent Anyanwu, Ajibade, Mbah, and Obi - popularly known as "the innocent four" to jail on a 15-year sentence. We hope that you will do everything in your power to encourage the release of Malaolu, as you have for a number of other journalists who we believe were wrongly accused and sent to prison.

Yours sincerely,
Wayne Sharpe
Executive Director