Two journalists in northern Cameroon are calling for government protection after witnesses say a mayor publicly threatened to kill them for investigating corruption in road construction contracts. The Cameroon Journalists Trade Union has condemned the threat, which came after the killings in January of two reporters who were outspoken on corruption.
The journalists say Sali Babani, the mayor of Maroua, a city near the northern border with Chad and Nigeria publicly threatened several times this month to kill reporters there.
The Cameroon Journalists Trade Union in a statement April 8 said the mayor threatened freelance reporter Ousman Alh Boubakari for asking about accountability on development projects.
Boubakari had accused the mayor on Facebook of abandoning some road construction projects in Maroua.
Mahamat Hamidou said that during a public ceremony at Kakatare last week, he heard Babani threatened to punish or kill journalists for reporting that some public projects have been abandoned. Hamidou said Cameroon's government should investigate why the mayor threatened to kill journalists instead of explaining why the road projects have not been completed as the Maroua Council promised.
The journalists' union said the mayor also threatened to kill Douala-based Channel 2 International's correspondent, Aminou Alioum.
Alioum and Boubakari said they received several anonymous calls threatening violence if they do not stop critical reports against the mayor.
Alioum told VOA that Boubakari received death threats from Babani for reporting that some roads in Maroua and construction work on the Kakatare junction in the same city have been abandoned. Alioum also said the mayor threatened him for taking pictures of the abandoned projects. He said the death threats from Babani add to other threats and intimidation reporters along Cameroon's northern border with Chad and Nigeria regularly get from Boko Haram militants.
Babani refused to respond to VOA's questions on the threats, which journalists also took to the police.
The spokesperson for Cameroon's police would not comment on the threats, but told VOA it was their duty to protect all citizens.
Alioum and Boubakari said the threats will not stop them from carrying out their work as reporters but joined the journalists' union in calling for the government to ensure their safety.
Cameroon's government has not yet commented on the journalists' plea for protection.
Babani's threats of violence against the media come less than two months after two journalists were killed in Cameroon.
The mutilated remains of Martinez Zogo, a popular radio announcer and journalist, were found January 22 in Yaoundé.
Police arrested 20 people in connection with the killing, including senior police intelligence officers and a well-known media mogul, Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga.
On his radio program, Zogo had accused Belinga and several government ministers of planning to kill him for his reporting on their alleged corrupt deals.
Radio presenter Jean-Jacques Ola Bebe was also found shot dead on February 2 outside his home in the capital.
Like Zogo, Bebe was an outspoken critic of government corruption.