News / Africa

Murder and Death Threats Target Nigerian Journalists from Lagos to Jos

Murder and Death Threats Target Nigerian Journalists from Lagos to Jos
Murder and Death Threats Target Nigerian Journalists from Lagos to Jos

Multimedia

Audio

Nigerian police are searching for the suspects in the killings of three journalists in two separate incidents on 24 April.  Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Africa program coordinator Tom Rhodes says police so far have not been able to assign motives to either incident.

“In all of these murder cases, the evidence is incredibly murky, and it’s difficult to know if it’s a group or if it’s an individual or a combination of the two.  The only trend which seems to be falling by the wayside is this near-assumption that all of these murders are simply the results of armed robberies.  The facts on the ground simply don’t add up,” he said.

Nigeria ethnic violence. 20 Jan 2010
Nigeria ethnic violence. 20 Jan 2010

In one incident, amid Muslim-Christian tensions in the restive city of Jos, Plateau State, a mob of Muslim rioters killed two journalists, Deputy Editor Nathan Dabak, 36, and reporter Sunday Gyang Bwede, 39, working for the Christian newspaper The Light Bearer.  The pair was covering a flare-up of Muslim rioters reacting to the alleged discovery of a Muslim corpse near a church and were stabbed while riding on a motorcycle to interview a local politician about the uproar.

Murder and Death Threats Target Nigerian Journalists from Lagos to Jos
Murder and Death Threats Target Nigerian Journalists from Lagos to Jos

Also on 24 April, armed gunmen entered the suburban Lagos house of The Nation newspaper reporter Edo Sole Ugbagwu.  They shot him and fled without taking anything.

New York-based CPJ, which tracks assaults and murders of reporters around the globe, conducts its own probes of such incidents and, according to program coordinator Rhodes, heightened political tensions with the government – not necessarily simmering religious tensions in Jos -- are believed to be at the root of the violent deaths.

“The impression we get from a lot of journalists on the ground there is these are actually targeted killings, not necessarily from government authorities, but people that may have previously been in government or have ties to government who want to silence the critical reporting,” he said.

On 28 April, four other journalists who covered the recent dismissal of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman Maurice Iwu, received anonymous death threats, which suggest that they, too, would suffer the fate of Nigerian journalists, including Ugbagwu, who were eliminated.  Identical text messages read, “We will deal with you soon.  Remember Dele Giwa, Bayo Ohu, and Edo Ugbagwu?”

CPJ’s Tom Rhodes says Ugbagwu was a court reporter for the Nation, who had not been working on a particularly sensitive story prior to his murder.  Ugbagwu’s brother, Okhlaho, told reporters that he witnessed his brother’s execution by two armed gunmen who drove off in a red Honda without taking any money.

“What makes this case interesting in comparison to the case of Bayo Ohu, who was a news editor for The Guardian, who was also killed in roughly the same Lagos suburb area last year, the police almost immediately passed it off as an armed, violent robbery and took the case as such.  In this case, they are not jumping to that conclusion so quickly, which makes one wonder that perhaps, it is a targeted killing,” he pointed out.

Ugbagwu is the third journalist killed in the Lagos suburbs in less than two years.  In addition to Bayo Ohu, who was shot at his home last September, a member of This Day’s editorial board, Paul Abayomi Ogundeji, was gunned down in August, 2008.  Rhodes says Lagos police have not been able to solve any of the murders.

“In the case of Bayo Ohu, they have five suspects currently in custody, and they have claimed that they have recovered the laptop Bayo Ohu was using.  However, according to journalists, the laptop is not the right one.  So, it’s still in the air whether they’ve arrested the appropriate suspects or not,” he said.

Murder and Death Threats Target Nigerian Journalists from Lagos to Jos
Murder and Death Threats Target Nigerian Journalists from Lagos to Jos

Although the Committee to Protect Journalists finds the process of ranking countries in terms of violence or press freedoms is often subjective and possibly misleading, CPJ recently issued a ranking of countries noted for violent crimes against reporters.  For Africa, he admits there is a good correlation between good governance and how much of a free press a country has.

“We released quite recently the Impunity Index, countries where the unsolved murders of journalists have ranked the highest in terms of the killers getting away with the murder itself.  One of the countries, which lands quite high on the list from sub-Saharan Africa is, of course, Somalia,” he notes, citing the Horn of Africa country’s inadequate justice system.

While Nigeria does not rank among the top 10 worst offenders for impunity, Rhodes says its impunity index is quite high because there have been a host of gradually drawn out, unsolved murders of Nigerian journalists since 1986, when Dele Giwa, the editor and founder of Newswatch magazine, was killed by a mail bomb in his home.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs