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Nigeria releases local Jewish leader who was arrested with Israeli filmmakers

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A leader of the Igbo Jewish community in southeastern Nigeria was released Monday after being held by authorities for a month.

Lizben Agha was arrested the same day as three Israeli filmmakers in the Igbo village of Ogidi on July 9 by masked agents of Nigeria’s internal security agency, the Department of State Services. The Israelis, taken at gunpoint in a local synagogue, were suspected of contact with Biafran separatists in the southeast of the country and held for 20 days without access to lawyers and without being formally charged.

The filmmakers stressed that neither they nor Agha had any connection whatsoever to separatists or any political movement.

Agha had been helping the Israelis film an episode on the Igbo Jewish community.

Her son Emmanuel told the BBC that after being held temporarily with her husband, Agha had asked the DSS to be taken to the capital Abuja with the Israelis in order to serve as their mediator.

Rudy Rochman, a pro-Israel activist with almost 95,000 followers on Instagram; filmmaker Andrew Noam Leibman; and French-Israeli journalist Edouard David Benaym were in Nigeria to film “We Were Never Lost,” a documentary exploring Jewish communities in African countries such as Kenya, Madagascar, Uganda and Nigeria. Their July trip was focused on the Igbo community.

“Lizben is an innocent, amazing woman,” Rochman told The Times of Israel. “Incredibly strong, powerful, hospitable, proud in her Jewish identity, and was there for us the moment we got there.”

“It’s horrible what happened to her — 29 days in prison. We were there for 20 of those days, so we know what it’s like,”........

© The Times of Israel

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