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Nigeria journalist arrested, faces libel suit over soccer stories

By Karen Smith, CNN
updated 6:01 AM EST, Tue November 15, 2011
Aminu Maigari was elected president of the Nigerian Football Federation in August 2010.
Aminu Maigari was elected president of the Nigerian Football Federation in August 2010.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Journalist Olajide Fashiku faces a libel lawsuit over soccer corruption allegations
  • His newspaper office, the National Accord, is ransacked by police
  • There is a trend of arrest of journalists in Nigeria, says the International Press Institute

(CNN) -- A journalist in Nigeria was arrested and faces a libel lawsuit over a series of stories alleging corruption in the Nigerian Football Federation.

Olajide Fashikun, editor of the National Accord newspaper, was arrested last Wednesday.

He faces a lawsuit over a series of articles he wrote in which he claimed that a letter from FIFA to the country's soccer organizing body carried a forged signature.

Police arrested Fashikun, ransacked the officers of the National Accord newspaper -- where he worked -- and seized his laptop and hard drive, the International Press Institute said.

He was later released.

The subject of Fashikun's articles is a letter purportedly from Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, which congratulates Aminu Maigari on his election as head of the Nigerian Football Federation.

Maigari's election in August 2010 was controversial after his main opponent withdrew from the race.

Now, the football federation has sued Fashikun, saying that his articles have damaged the integrity of committee.

Last year, FIFA was close to suspending Nigeria for government interference.

After the national team performed poorly in the 2010 World Cup, Nigeria said it would ban the team from international competition for two years.

Under threat of FIFA suspension, the football federation reversed its decision.

The International Press Institute, which promotes freedom of the press, said other newspapers in Nigeria have been raided in the past.

Last month, police raided The Nation newspaper and arrested six journalists after they published a front-page letter purportedly from the nation's former president instructing the current to fire government officials.

"This recent tendency to arrest journalists and to seize their computers and hard drives is worrying," the institute's Executive Director Bethel McKenzie said. "More must be done to guarantee freedom of the media in Nigeria."

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