FEBRUARY 11, 2003
Posted: January 29, 2004
Police in the town of Agadez, approximately 620 miles (1,000 kilometers)
northeast of the capital, Niamey, shuttered the independent, Agadez-based
radio station Nomade FM. The order for the closure came from Interior
Minister Albade Abouba, who, local sources reported, was acting on orders
from President Mamadou Tandja.
The station was accused of "inciting rebellion" during a February 5 broadcast
of a local-language talk show when the host spoke with two former antigovernment
rebels. The rebels criticized the government's failure to implement the
1995 Peace Accords, signed between the government and a former rebel movement.
In particular, the talk-show guests criticized the government's failure
to integrate the former rebels into society, saying that they have lived
in poverty since the accords were signed.
Nomade was given permission to go back on air three weeks after the closure.
The station, which was founded in 1998, broadcasts local news and relays
news from international organizations.
JUNE 14, 2003
Mallam Yaro, Radio Télévision Ténéré
Radio Télévision Ténéré
Several dozen students from the University of Niamey descended on the
offices of Radio Télévision Ténéré
(RTT), the country's only private station, attacked Station Director Yaro,
and manhandled other journalists and station listeners. The students also
vandalized one of the station's vehicles.
The attack followed a June 13 television report on the students' poor
living conditions. The RTT broadcast included an account of how the students
were stealing food from university stores and then selling it. Earlier
on June 13, the students threatened to attack the RTT journalists who
had gone to the university to prepare the report if the station broadcast
footage of their illegal activities. Sources in Niamey said that neither
Yaro nor the other RTT journalists were seriously injured.
SEPTEMBER 13, 2003
Soumana Maïga, L'Enquêteur
Ibrahim Souley, L'Enquêteur
Police arrested Maïga, founder of the private weekly L'Enquêteur
(The Investigator), and Souley, the paper's publication director,
in the capital, Niamey, after the newspaper ran an article alleging that
businessmen from eastern Niger had complained that the government was
awarding too many contracts to a businessman from the west.
Maïga was released after a few hours of questioning about his role
at the newspaper, the journalist told CPJ. However, Souley was held for
48 hours at police headquarters before being transferred to Niamey's Central
Prison. The journalist was charged with spreading propaganda and "inciting
Souley's trial opened on October 7. On October 13, he was given a one-year
suspended prison sentence and was freed that day. The journalist was also
banned from entering Niamey for the duration of the sentence. Sources
in Niger told CPJ that Souley will continue working for L'Enquêteur.
NOVEMBER 5, 2003
Posted: January 29, 2004
Maman Abou, Le Républicain
LEGAL ACTION, IMPRISONED
Police officers arrested Abou, director of the private weekly newspaper
Le Républicain, at the newspaper's offices in the capital,
Niamey. He was transferred to Central Prison in Niamey the same day.
On November 7, Abou was sentenced to six months in prison for criminal
defamation at a closed, secret trial. Neither Abou nor his lawyers were
present at the trial, according to Abou's colleagues. The journalist was
also ordered to pay two fines, one of 300,000 CFA francs (US$530), and
another of 10 million CFA francs (US$17,560).
The sentence stemmed from a July article in Le Républicain
that accused several government ministers of using unauthorized treasury
funds to pay for government contracts. The article alleged that several
contracts had been awarded to government supporters without allowing competitive
bidding, according to Le Républicain staff. The newspaper
also published several documents, allegedly from the Public Treasury,
along with the article. Following the article's publication, Prime Minister
Hama Amadou announced on state television that he would pursue defamation
charges against Le Républicain, according to local journalists.
After the sentence was delivered, Abou was transferred from Central Prison
in Niamey to a prison in the town of Say, about 30 miles (50 kilometers)
On December 23, after the defamation charge against Abou had been appealed,
Niamey's Correctional Court amended the journalist's sentence, changing
it from six months in prison to a suspended sentence of four months. The
fines were also reduced to 100,000 (US$190) and 2 million CFA francs (US$3,780),
However, Abou was kept in prison under so-called preventive detention
on a second charge of complicity in stealing and possessing confidential
government documents. The possession charge falls under the country's
criminal code and can carry a sentence of several years in prison, according
to local journalists.
On January 6, 2004, an appeals court granted Abou a provisional release,
and he was freed from jail. His lawyer said he could soon be summoned
for hearings on the possession charges.
NOVEMBER 13, 2003
Posted November 13, 2003
Ismael Moutari, Radio Anfani
Amadou Mamadou, Radio Anfani
Harouna Mato, Radio Anfani
Police arrested Radio Anfani's regional director Moutari and reporters
Mamadou and Mato, in Zinder, a region in eastern Niger, and detained them
for five hours for questioning, according to the journalists' colleagues
in the capital, Niamey. The arrests came after the station reported on
a clash between local farmers and nomadic herders during which two people
were killed, local journalists said. The three journalists were held at
the police station in Zinder and were questioned about the report.
Moutari, Mamadou, and Mato were released the same day. It is unclear whether
they will be formally charged.