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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid