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Nigerian Based Journalist, Simon Ateba Arrested In Cameroon For Espionage



Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba

A Cameroonian journalist based in Lagos, Nigeria, Simon Ateba, been arrested in Cameroon by soldiers on allegations of espionage.

The Cameroonian authorities are believed to be accusing him of spying for the Boko Haram insurgency group that has waged a relentless war in North east Nigeria for the past six years.

Ateba, who until recently worked for The News Magazine in Lagos, was conducting an investigation on the condition of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon and Chad when he was arrested on Friday. He slept the night in detention.

The investigation is part of the Nigerian Investigative Reporting Project, NIRP, an initiative of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, supported by Ford Foundation.

Ateba got a grant for the investigation from the ICIR and left Abuja on Sunday but was arrested yesterday afternoon at a Nigerian refugees’ camp in Makolo in Cameroon’s far north region as he tried to leave the camp.

According to Dayo Aiyetan, the executive director of the ICIR, who has been in contact with the arrested journalist in the cell where he is being held, Ateba said he is being accused of spying for the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency group.

Explaining how he was arrested, the journalist said that he had spoken to the Governor of Maroua, the minister of communication, the army spokesman and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, before proceeding to the refugee camp in Makolo. He was arrested as he tried to leave the camp.

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He said that he believed that he would be moved to Yaoundé, the Cameroonian capital, where he would be handed over to the secret police on allegations of spying for Boko Haram.

Ateba said that he has been fairly treated in detention but has not been given food or water since Friday afternoon when he was arrested. He added that he was beaten by the rain while on his way to the camp and had been feeling feverish since last night but had not been allowed to get drugs to treat himself

Attempts by the ICIR to contact the Cameroonian communications minister and the governor of Maroua have been unsuccessful as call to their mobile numbers did not go through.



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