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10 Nigerian Journalists Murdered With Impunity In Four Years

Nigerian journalists have in the past few years been victims of insecurity and impunity.

The media space was thrown into sorrow on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, following the report that a Vanguard Newspaper missing reporter,  Tordue Salem, was found dead at Abuja, North-central Nigeria. 

Late Salem, who was covering the House of Representatives, was last seen on Oct. 13, 2021 with an alarm on his mysterious disappearance being raised the next day. 

The matter was directed to the Police Intelligence Response Team on Oct. 16, 2021 but he was never seen until his remains were recovered on Thursday.

Salem joined the list of many journalists who have been killed, or died as a result of insecurity and impunity in Nigeria. 

A 20-year-old journalist, Pelumi Onifade, was reportedly killed by officials of the Nigerian police attached to the Lagos State Task Force, on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020 during #EndSARS protests. 

He was a 200-level student of the Department of History, Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ogun State, who was an intern with Gboah TV, an online television.

He was said to have joined one of his colleagues to cover an attempted burglary by hoodlums at a government facility at Abattoir, Oko Oba area of Agege.

On Jan. 21, 2020, an editor with the local independent outlet Regent Africa Times, Alex Ogbu, was killed at a protest in Abuja. He was shot by a bullet that was fired by the police at the scene of the Shi’ite protest. 

Also, a former presenter and on-air personality for Naija FM, Titus Badejo, was murdered on June 19, 2021 in Oyo State, Southwest Nigeria.  

The killing was reportedly carried out by armed men outside Club 407 in the Oluyole area of Ibadan at about 11:30 p.m.

Another incident was that of Olubunmi Afuye who was killed on July 15, 2021 when armed robbers stormed a bank in Ondo State.   Afuye, popularly known as ‘Bumbam’ worked with the Ondo State Radiovision Corporation (OSRC) and Orange FM before he resigned to join Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, as Public Relations Officer (PRO).

A reporter with the government-owned Federal Radio Corporation (FRCN), Maxwell Nashan, was  abducted from his home before being bound, gagged and hacked to death in Adamawa State on Jan. 15, 2020. 

It does not end, still.

On July 22, 2019, Precious Owolabi, a 23-year-old general assignment reporter for the privately owned broadcaster Channels Television, was shot while covering a confrontation between Shi’ite Muslim protesters and the Nigerian police, and died the same day after being taken to a hospital. 

Some non-state actors killed Famous Giobaro, a staff of state-owned Glory FM 97.1 at his residence at INEC Road, Kpasia in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa in  April 2017. 

On Nov. 15, 2017, police found Ikechukwu Onubogu, a cameraman with Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), dead with bullet wounds in the city of Onitsha, Anambra State. 

Also, a reporter with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Lawrence Okojie, was shot dead by a terror group on Jul. 7, 2017 around Ogunola Junction, off Siluko Road, Benin, capital of Edo State.  

Call for protection of journalists

As the world marked the 2021 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists in early November, Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council, Adeleye Ajayi, urged the Federal Government and security agencies in the country to end further attacks and reopen investigation of past assaults on media practitioners.

The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) Director, Edetaen Ojo, also charged the government to establish a specialised team of prosecutors to facilitate the effective investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against journalists and other media workers for Nigeria to fulfill its regional and international treaty obligations to ensure the safety of journalists.

Reacting to the recent incident involving Salem, a media expert, Kene Obiezu, said Nigeria must guarantee safety of journalists as they give people a voice, and enable them to ask authorities tough questions.

In a programme organised by the International Press Centre (IPC) in partnership with Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), to discuss violence against journalists last week, the Executive Director of the IPC, Lanre Arogundade, said CSOs and non-state actors including the various professional groups, trade unions, academics, etc., are critical voices that should be heard on the issue of safety of journalists.

On his part, the publisher of Premium Times, Dapo Olorunyomi, argued that “journalists cannot afford to relent in the advocacy for complete freedom of the press as the press continues to be important for ensuring transparency and accountability in governance.”

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Adejumo Kabir

Kabir works at HumAngle as the Editor of Southern Operations. He is interested in community development reporting, human rights, social justice, and press freedom. He was a finalist in the student category of the African Fact-checking Award in 2018, a 2019 recipient of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence, and a 2020 recipient of the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award. He was also nominated in the journalism category of The Future Awards Africa in 2020. He has been selected for various fellowships, including the 2020 Civic Media Lab Criminal Justice Reporting Fellowship and 2022 International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) 'In The Name of Religion' Fellowship.

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