Al Jazeera journalists detained in Nigeria

Nigeria’s military has detained two Al Jazeera television journalists in the country’s northeast, where troops have been battling Boko Haram militants.

Defence spokesman Chris Olukolade said the pair were “found to have been loitering around areas where military operations are ongoing in the northeast and have been restrained in Maiduguri”.

The statement, posted on Twitter and the military’s website on Wednesday (local time), identified the journalists as Ahmed Idris and Mustafa Andy.

They were “noted to have been moving around various locations including restricted areas in Yobe and Borno state (and) were also operating without any protection, accreditation or due clearance”.

Al Jazeera said on its website that Idris, a reporter, and Andy, a producer, had been “officially detained until further notice” since Tuesday and called for their immediate release.

“They have all the relevant paperwork to report on the Nigerian elections (Saturday local time) and stories related to the election,” the broadcaster said.

“Both men had just finished filming a story on the military with their co-operation.

“They were not ‘loitering’ but were in the hotel room and had only passed through the restricted areas of Yobe and Borno State to get to Maiduguri.”

Al Jazeera said camera equipment belonging to the men, both Nigerian nationals, was confiscated.

Nigeria’s military has had tense relations with the media, particularly overseas organisations, frequently accusing them of misrepresenting the conflict.

The government has also been accused of restricting visas for foreign journalists to cover Saturday’s general election.

Idris recently reported for Al Jazeera’s English service from Chibok, in Borno state, from where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in April last year.

The government-organised trip saw Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala lay the foundation stone of a new school to replace the one destroyed in the attack.