The President, Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) Mohammed Garba has called on the African Union, (AU) to facilitate the release of four journalists who have been detained by the Military Junta heading Egyptian Government.
Same call was made to the Egypt Junta who have kept journalists working with Aljazeera in its custody since 2013 without providing the public with any merit for their arrests. “We demand the release of all the four journalists immediately”, Mohammed demanded.
The Junta had arrested Abdullah El-Shamy over eight months ago and added three other journalists swelling the number to four.
The African number one Journalist who is also the President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and West African Federation of Journalists (WAJA) made this call while leading a protest march by the union members in the Federal Capital Territory said the action was at variance with the charter of African journalists safety.
The FAJ President said the action by the Egypt Junta is part of the impunity on the part of the Egyptian government and we have organised ourselves to show our concern and call on the Egyptian government to release these gentlemen without any condition.
Mohammed said journalism is not a practice that should be criminalized and the journalists deserved fair hearing and bail especially when they were working in consonants with their social responsibility of providing news information to the public.
“Journalism, even where there are offences should not be criminalized. We thought that when they were in court two weeks ago they will be granted bail unfortunately that was not done. So this rally is in protest of their continuous detention.
“As well as to call on the Egyptian authority to release them immediately, we believe that they have not commit any criminal offence, even where criminal offences are committed in some African countries we have seen instances, where they were granted bail.
“So we felt as journalists, they should be given the right to discharge their social responsibility as expected by the people.
“We are calling on the Egyptian authority to grant the immediately our colleagues, this is a clear indication that the impunity on the part of journalist in Africa and we believe that the only way to ensure the freedom of expression and the media is to allow the journalist discharge their duty without any interference, without any effort to intimidate them. This is
our position. And I am speaking on behalf of the NUJ, as well as WAJA and FAJ.
“I want to assure you that we will contingents push for the security and safety of journalists which is one of the declaration we were able to organize at the level of Federation of African Journalists.
“Security and safety of journalists is very important and the only way we can achieve that is to engage government at all levels.
“It is now left for the African Union to ensure that the issue of safety and security of journalists is part of the areas the African Union should be able to achieve so that journalists can be able to tell people about is happening in their domain.
Parents and other relations of Abdullah El-Shamy, arrested eight months earlier joined the journalists , condemned his arrest and demanded his release.
Father of Abdullah, Elshamy Nasir, said his son has been held for over eight months without reason and solicited the support of the Union to write the Egyptian Embassy in Nigeria to please state the offence of his son which informed his incarceration.
Elshamy commended the Union for the protest rally adding that the arrest of his son is an assault on the practice of journalism.
He said the son has emanciated following his 33 days old hunger strike detention.