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Nigerian Official Defends Arrest of American Filmmakers in Niger Delta


Efforts are continuing to secure the release of four American filmmakers detained by Nigerian authorities in the Niger Delta. Already several U.S. lawmakers are pressuring the State Department for action on the issue.

Nigerian officials say the filmmakers were in the country without authorization. Rotimi Ajayi is the special assistant to the minister of information. He told English to Africa reporter Chinedu Offor there are specific rules to be followed by foreigners.

“When you want to come into Nigeria to do business, there are well laid out procedures that you need to follow, and that involves getting appropriate approval from relevant authorities," said Ajayi. "That means you would have pre-submitted a list of your business in the country. Once those lists have been approved, I am not sure you are restricted in any way from carrying out your business.”

Ajayi says media practitioners are required to visit the ministry in person. “The class of people you just mentioned - when they are coming in Nigeria, they must report to the Nigerian Embassy for relevant visas," explained Ajayi, "and when they enter Nigeria, they are expected to visit the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Information to get proper accreditation, and after approval, they can now go on with their job."

Ajayi says reporters are restricted to the places and events approved by the government. “The details of your business will naturally depend on the kind of accreditation you get.”