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Paris, France – On 9 February, Isa Sa’idu, the Kaduna bureau chief of the Daily Trust, was threatened by Lieutenant-Colonel Abubakar Edun, spokesman of the army’s First Mechanised Division, for having reported that soldiers had manhandled journalists trying to cover the bombing of a division barracks in Kaduna on 7 February. His equipment was seized.
On the same day at the same location, Umar Uthman a cameraman with the private station African Independent Television and a colleague from government-run Katuna State Television both had their cameras confiscated.
On 7 February, agents of the State Security Service raided the offices of the Nigerian Television Authority in Abuja in search of video recordings that showed members of Boko Haram nominated to take part in talks with the government. The cassettes were taken away by the agents, who said they were acting on government orders.
On 5 February, the French journalist Jérémie Drieu, a reporter for the channel TF1, and a local colleague Ahmad Salkida, were arrested by soldiers in the city of Jos in Plateau State. They were forced to show all the material they had filmed before being forced to pack and leave the state at nightfall. They were apprehended when it emerged that a documentary on which they were working would be critical of the government.
On 4 February, the press centre at Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, opened 30 years ago, was closed by the Nigerian authorities on the orders of the head of the protocol department attached to the airport’s presidential wing, Alofabi Oduniyi. He was reported to have accused journalists accredited to the centre of writing articles that were negative and prejudicial to the interests of the president. More than 60 journalists have been prevented from recovering their equipment locked inside the centre.
Martins Ayola, general director of the station Adaba FM, which broadcasts in Ondo State, said there was a price on the head of some of its senior staff for broadcasting critical programmes and they were being hunted by contract killers. One of the station’s programmes, “Oja-Oro”, was ordered off air by the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation for allegedly trying to turn listeners against the governor, Olusegun Mimiko.
On 1 February, Kayode Akinmade, the commissioner for information and strategy, launched a petition against the programme that succeeded “Oja-Oro”, entitled “Ela Oro”, alleging it was broadcasting negative perceptions of the government.
Also on 1 February, Goke Famadewa, a journalist for The Punch newspaper, was manhandled by police attached to the Lagos office of Shell Nigeria. The journalist, who was reporting on a dispute inside the company, was beaten up for taking photographs of the premises. The police officers deleted all his photos before releasing him after two hours.
On 25 January, newspaper vendors Okwudili Nnadi, Tochukwu Onuigbo, Ugwu Stephen and Martha Agbedo – who had her five-month-old baby with her – were arrested by state police in Nsukka, in Enugu state. All copies of newspapers in their possession were seized based on the argument that they stirred up popular unrest because they contained photos of the victims of Boko Haram attacks. They were released after several hours but they were unable to recover the confiscated copies.
Again on 25 January, Stanley Mijah, a journalist for The Scope published in Adamawa State, was indicted by a court in Yola for having in his possession sensitive articles which, if published, might disturb public order.
Abdullahi Adamu Kanoma, a journalist with Zamfara State Radio, was charged with criminal conspiracy, inciting public disturbance, illegal assembly and mischief by fire. He was arrested while on his way to the police headquarters to interview the commissioner after the fuel price protests of recent months. He was approached by police officers and told his name was a list of people to be arrested for taking part in the marches. His trial began on 6 February before the Zamfara State Sharia court.
Problems persist in April, two more suspicious deaths
Before April ended with the twin newspaper bombings in Abuja and Kaduna, there were two suspicious deaths of journalists. Reporters Without Borders is unable to determine whether they were linked to the victims’ work.
On 16 April, Chuks Ogu, a journalist with the station Independent Television, was shot dead by a gunman who burst into the apartment of a couple whose wedding he had been filming and opened fire. The circumstances of the murder are still unclear and it is not know whether the journalist was the target or simply an innocent victim.
On 3 April, the body of Ibrahim Muhammed, a film editor with the commercial TV station African Independent Television, was found in a pool of blood in his apartment in Kaduna. According to his family, he had been followed home on two occasions by unidentified people. An investigation was opened on 4 April, but there have been no serious efforts to find those responsible.