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Nigerian Journalists Undeterred by Bombings

People gather at the bombed office of ThisDay, an influential daily newspaper, Abuja, Nigeria, April 26, 2012.
People gather at the bombed office of ThisDay, an influential daily newspaper, Abuja, Nigeria, April 26, 2012.
Anne Look

The death toll from Thursday's bomb attacks on Nigerian newspaper offices in the capital Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna has risen to at least nine people.

Suspicion has fallen on the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram, which has threatened the media in the past, but Nigerian journalists say they will not be deterred from disseminating information.

The Premium Times, a local online publication, posted what it said was an exclusive interview with the group's spokesman late Thursday. Known as Abul Qaqa, the purported Boko Haram spokesman reportedly said the bombings were payback for dissemination of what he called inaccurate and biased reports on the sect's activities, and that ThisDay, a prominent Nigerian newspaper, was targeted for particularly serious "sins."

Qaqa usually communicates with local reporters via teleconference, and the authenticity of the published interview was not immediately verifiable.

Standing outside the bombed-out newspaper office in Abuja Thursday, ThisDay's executive director Israel Iwegbu defended the paper's reporting.

"We've always quoted their representative, their spokesman," he said. "We've always said whatever that man said. We have never gone out of the way to report anything against them whatsoever. We report things as they are."

On Friday, ThisDay published an editorial saying "no amount of threat or intimidation can weaken our resolve." The paper said Thursday's late morning blast killed five people, including the bomber, after a jeep rigged with explosives rammed the front doors of its Abuja office and printing press.

Later in the day, bombings in the northern city of Kaduna killed at least four other people and injured several more. One of the latter attacks targeted a building that houses local offices for three newspapers: ThisDay, The Sun and The Moment. In that attack, police said they arrested a bomber after witnesses said a mob tried to beat him to death.

Boko Haram Facts

  • 2002: Founded as a non-violent Islamic splinter group.
  • Concentrated in northeast Nigeria.
  • Launched 2009 uprising; leader killed in police custody
  • Killed hundreds in bombings, shootings since 2010.
  • Name means 'Western education is sin.'
  • Seeks national adoption of Islamic law.


The Kaduna bureau chief for The Moment, Garba Mohammed, said all Nigerian news outlets face significant challenges in covering Boko Haram, which remains a largely "faceless" entity. To cover the news, he said, reporters must often go by unverified statements from security forces.

"They are always very, very challenging," said Mohammed. "They don't open up with all of the truth of the matter, and we are always left with the accounts of eyewitnesses to rely on."

Thursday's attacks underscore the growing complexity of the security threat in northern Nigeria, as bombings and drive-by shootings -- not all of which are claimed by Boko Haram -- increasingly target civilians. Beefed-up security has not been able to stop the near-daily violence.

Boko Haram has made threats against media outlets in recent months, but even if claims of responsibility are confirmed, said Igwegbu, journalists would be merely another addition to a growing roster of targets.

"We are calling on the president to sit up and assure the security of lives and property, because if they can target the schools, people in church, media organizations like ThisDay, then apparently there is no one that is safe."

Boko Haram, the Islamist sect's nickname in the Hausa language, means "Western education is sacrilege," a condemnation of what the group calls a wealthy, foreign-educated elite that has confiscated power in Nigeria. The sect has said it wants to impose Islamic law in northern Nigeria.

According to Human Rights Watch, Boko Haram has killed more than 1,000 people since its 2010 resurgence.

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by: Edwin Kaliku PhD.
April 30, 2012 5:46 AM
There are not enough reasons to blaim Nigeria Government for the killings in Northern Nigeria. Mr. Garba Mohammed saying that Boko Haram are faceless and that Jonathan is not doing enough are very untrue. Jonathan or Nigeria government do not have enough man power to mind every notherner who encourage this violence. The blaim should be placed with notherners who know thier people and are quiet about it, hence we need individual state police.

by: Edwin Kaliku PhD.
April 30, 2012 5:44 AM
There are not enough reasons to blaim Nigeria Government for the killings in Northern Nigeria. Mr. Garba Mohammed saying that Boko Haram are faceless and that Jonathan is not doing enough are very untrue. Jonathan or Nigeria government do not have enough man power to mind every notherner who encourage this violence. The blaim should be placed with notherners who know thier people and are quiet about it, hence we need individual state police.

by: Edwin Kaliku PhD.
April 30, 2012 5:07 AM
Those who calls for the Nigerian Government to negotiate with Boko Harem are out of their minds. Are Boko Haram and those who support violence not Nigerians, who ones believed in a demogratic system ? My suggestion is that each state should have her own police force with a strong Federal CID over seeing all. If Northerns want to kill themselves, they are welcomed. All weapons used should be traced to identify their sources.

by: Bobby Anojenwere
April 29, 2012 9:21 PM
Pls the world,help us tell our president,Goodluck that if he can't put a stop to boko haram & bring peace in Nigeria,let him step down.This menace is too much for Nigerians to bear.

by: onwodi etinosa ezeokwu
April 29, 2012 4:39 PM
boko haram can not win what they have started,.they cant divide this country..am a christian and most of my friends are muslem from kano and even kaduna,i knew them when i was i a military school in kaduna, NIGERIA DEFENCE ACADEMY,.inspite of every thing happining,Nigeria stiil loves each other.by GOD grace i belive our security forces can take care of the situation,let the government and then be truthful to ending this meness

by: Real zikooh
April 28, 2012 5:58 AM
I think dividing the country is going to be the resolution! Where we have the Federal Republic of Biafra

by: lawal ademola
April 28, 2012 12:11 AM
The only solution is a war against those ignorant fools. Am very sure the authority knows this people,how many more will they kill,a student is not safe,neither is a lecturer,not even you nor me,cause we dont know who is next. We cant put ourlives at their mercy,if u have to die then die bravely,die fighting.they are not bigger than NIGERIA nor the CIVIL WAR just a group of barbarians.

by: Amoseg
April 27, 2012 9:44 PM
This may be the beginning of the end for Nigeria. One of its presumme sponsor has said that we need revolution in Nigeria. What follows now? Let's act fast!!

by: chubbi
April 27, 2012 4:34 PM
Well it means we have to leave with boko haram since it remains a hydra headed monster for the FG. We are no longer safe in the north till the end of this administration.

by: sakina
April 27, 2012 3:22 PM
please people, I am calling on everyone involve in the acts of killing fellow human beings, what do you think of your self in this world? I you here as a permanent being to this world? Why I you human beings so angry of other human beings? We all have the same blue blood running in our bodies, so why? Ask your self what are your gain in killing other human being despite the circumstances? Please, no gain in shading blue blood to red blood littering cities and villager.
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