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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs