Three weeks after being arrested on suspicion of ties to the Proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, the Department of State Security Services, DSS, has released a group of Israeli film makers.
The Israeli film makers, Rudy Rochman, Andrew (Noam) Leibman, and Edouard David Benaym, were released by the Nigerian Secret Service and flown back to Israel on Wednesday evening, according to Ng Times.
The Israeli film makers full statement on their ordeals and the circumstances that led to their arrest may be seen below.
“The We Were Never Lost Team: Rudy Rochman, Andrew Noam Leibman & Edouard David Benaym have officially been released from the Nigerian Government’s DSS(Secret Service) illegal detainment and are on a flight back to Israel as of the evening of July 28″, scheduled to land in Israel July 29th at 9:00 AM (Israel time).”
“The WWNL documentary team were wrongfully taken on Friday, July 9″, 2021 at 7:30 AM (Nigerian time) to the local DSS facility in Anambra State, Nigeria where they were held for 24 hours before being transported to the DSS headquarters in Abuja, 9 hours away with dangerous transport.”
“We Were Never Lost is a documentary project that aims to tell the stories of disconnected and lesser-known Jewish communities around the world. The first Season of WWNL is set to take place in Africa travelling through Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia. The goal of the project is to showcase the fascinating stories, experiences, struggles and aspirations of such communities, to reveal the diversity of Jewish life, and to unite the Jewish People around the world.”
“Nigeria was scheduled to be the first episode filmed of the African season covering the Igbo communities genuinely practicing and preserving their Judaism. Unfortunately, after only 2 days of filming, Nigerian bloggers started hijacking images from the WWNL social media pages and fabricated an association between the Israeli crew to separatist movements in Southern Nigeria likely in order to gain more publicity.”
“The Igbo People are not a monolith. One separatist movement does not represent S50 million people. Furthermore, the communities that were to be visited had nothing to do with the separatist movement and the point of the film was purely cultural, spiritual, historical, and not political.”
“This was very clear in all the messaging and public information available on www.WeWereNeverLost.com, which had been announced and published months before.”
“Due to the factually incorrect and inflammatory blogs, the Nigerian government “suspected” the team and took them into custody by over a dozen DSS men with black ski masks at gunpoint. From the moment they were taken their phones and passports were stripped from them and they were at no point of their detainment able to contact anyone.”
“Rudy, Noam, and David were caged and held for 20 days in horrendous conditions, locked into a
small cell, sleeping on the floor with no access to showers or clean clothes. They were interrogated and mistreated without ever officially being arrested or accused of anything. There were countless human and international violations that occurred, which can and will be discussed in depth at a later time. Fortunately, the Jewish organization, Chabad of Nigeria, was able to reach the three Israeli filmmakers after their 5th day in captivity and provided them with proper Kosher meals daily.”
“Thanks to the efforts of the Israeli, US and French embassies, along with other diplomatic channels, families, and many caring individuals who helped in the process, as of July 28″ the WWNL team has been officially cleared of any and all suspicions and although their visas are still valid have been instructed by the Nigerian government to leave the country immediately.”
“Although the team cannot continue their filming of Igbo Jewish life in Nigeria, their mission is not over and the story will be told. The 3 weeks in captivity has only fueled the team’s desire to tell the stories of the Igbo Jews and will continue working for them to get mainstream reception.”
“Our hearts, prayers, and thoughts go out to the Igbo Jewish communities we met and to those we had planned to visit. We thank you all for hosting us for the few days we shared and will not give up on you.” Rudy Rochman.”
“When Rudy, Noam, and David were taken, an elderly Igbo woman, “ima Lisbon” who is a leader of the Jewish community in Ogidi, Nigeria was also taken into custody and is still being detained in inhumane conditions. When they all arrived in Abuja she was separated from the team and kept in a different building. 1/3 of the food brought for the WWNL team was always separated and given to the DSS officers for Ima Lisbon. Rudy made sure to have Chabad of Nigeria commit to continue providing Ima Lisbon with food during her ongoing detainment. The team will continue telling her story hopes that she is freed as soon as possible.”