Christian journalist’s detention after covering violence in Nigeria results in another delay in the case

The case of a Christian journalist who was arrested for writing about violence in Nigeria has been put off again.

The trial of a Nigerian journalist who was arrested for writing about how the government couldn’t stop attacks on Christians has been put off again because the judge didn’t show up.

Luka Binniyat is a journalist whose work has been published by the anti-communist Epoch Times. He was supposed to go to court last week to face charges from last year of “cyberstalking” and “aiding and abetting” cybercrimes.
But International Christian Concern, which is based in the U.S., says that the judge didn’t show up to the trial.

Binniyat, who is Catholic and was arrested in November, says he is not guilty.

Africa Desk Editor Doug Burton of The Epoch Times said that the journalist was arrested because of an article he wrote on October 29 called “In Nigeria, Police Call Massacres “Wicked” but Make No Arrests.”

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The article was part of a newspaper’s coverage of the deadly persecution of mostly Christian farming communities in a West African country. Human rights activists say the situation has gotten so bad in recent years that it is getting close to “genocide.”

Critics think that the case against Binniyat is a political move by Nigerian officials in Southern Kaduna against journalists, the ICC said.

In Nigeria’s Middle Belt, which includes northern Kaduna state, radicalized ethnic Fulani militants often attack farming communities that are mostly Christian. The ICC said this in an earlier statement.
In the last few years, a lot of people have died.

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Claims that violence in the Middle Belt states is caused by religion have been shot down by the Nigerian government, which says that the violence is part of a long-running conflict between farmers and herders.

In his article, Binniyat disagreed with Samuel Aruwan, the Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs for the state of Kaduna, when he called an attack on Christian farmers in the state a “clash.”

A few days ago, the U.S.
Commission on International Religious Freedom warned that violence by non-state actors and “poor governance” are making religious freedom worse in Nigeria.

In a report on violence in Africa’s most populous country, USCIRF said, “In recent years, nonstate actor violence has increased in most parts of Nigeria. This violence has had devastating humanitarian and human rights consequences, including but not limited to violence based on religion and other violations of Nigerians’ rights to freedom of religion or belief.”

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USCIRF suggested that the State Department list Nigeria as a country of particular concern because it “commits and tolerates systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”

When the State Department gives a country the “CPC” label, the country could face crippling sanctions and other bad things.

But in the 14 years that USCIRF has suggested that Nigeria be named a CPC, the State Department has only agreed once, in 2020, when Trump was in office.

Last year, the Biden administration took Nigeria off the CPC list, which was criticized by human rights groups and USCIRF.

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