Human RightsNews

‘Nigeria’s Ordinary President’: BBC Reporter Says Life Under Threat, Calls For Help

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said it is investigating the death threats received by Peter Nkanga.

BBC journalist, Peter Nkanga, who reported how popular radio personality, Ahmed Isah, assaulted a criminal suspect, says his life has been “seriously under threat” since the documentary was published on Monday, May 17.

The documentary had placed the methods adopted by Isah, Brekete Family’s founder and host, famously known as Ordinary President, under scrutiny. 

It showed a scene where the radio host and human rights advocate slapped Susan, a young woman who allegedly set the hair of her six-year-old niece on fire after accusing her of witchcraft. It also accused Isah of abandoning cases without explanation after promising to follow them to their logical conclusion.

Nkanga, in a statement shared with HumAngle on Sunday, says he has been facing cyberbullying and threats targeting him and his family since the report was released.

“My attack is not coming from the State, or Opposition, or some militant group. My attack is coming from the public mob that Ahmad Isah commands. I am talking about a multitude of everyday people including gatemen (mine in my residence is an avid follower of Ahmad), taxi/keke/okada drivers, market sellers, business owners, shop attendants, people from all walks of life and strata of society,” he wrote.

“I am talking of everyday people you meet anywhere and everywhere on the road, malls, parks, markets, church, offices, banks, etc, who are his fervent adherents. They have my image, they are threatening me on social media.”

He further alleged that his phone numbers were released to the public during the daily Brekete Family programmes aired on May 20 and 21.

“Ahmad is a mob leader. He allowed my numbers, on two different days, to be broadcast live for his adherents all over the world to attack me. It was a clear premeditated action with malicious intent. Ever since, these people have been calling, sending SMS/WhatsApp threats to me,” the journalist said.

“I have had to switch off my phone lines. I am afraid because Ahmad’s adherents have told me they know where I live, and  I will die. My situation is a very dangerous one.”

Nkanga said he had gone into hiding and was forced to flee Abuja to safeguard himself.

“Please help me. I am putting relevant Nigerian security agencies, the media, civil society, the international community, and the Nigerian public on notice: Ahmad Isah has to know that if anything happens to me, my family, or any BBC crew, that he will be held responsible.”

HumAngle obtained recordings of some of the calls placed to Nkanga where “Brekete Family followers” threatened that he had “no hiding place” and would “be stoned to death”.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a global nonprofit that advocates for press freedom, has said it is concerned and is investigating the death threats received by Nkanga.

“Nigerian authorities should ensure Nkanga’s safety,” it appealed.

The BBC said in a statement that it isthat it is taking the threats seriously and will report them to the police.

“It is completely unacceptable that journalists should suffer abuse for doing their jobs,” it wrote.

“Prior to broadcasting the film, the BBC repeatedly reached out to Ahmed Isah offering a right of reply to questions regarding accusations from his critics but he declined. Since the BBC investigation has aired, Mr Isah has apologised for his assault on the woman in the film.”

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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