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Mindless Killing Of Journalists

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Recently, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua described insecurity in the country as the greatest challenge facing his administration. The President, who spoke through Vice President Goodluck Jonathan at the 48th National Executive Committee meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja, also identified power supply as another area that had remained a major headache for his government. He, however, assured that the two problems would soon be tackled.

My immediate reaction was; how       soon is soon? This is against the backdrop of series of crises and bloody riots that had erupted across the country in recent times. These include the continuing sickness of the economy, the poor state of infrastructure and social services, the protracted strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the banking crisis and the endemic corruption at all levels of government, among others.

Agreed that most of these problems have been existing for quite some time, but it appears that things are generally getting worse. In particular, lack of security of lives and property has become a national calamity. Nobody is safe anymore in Nigeria. Even journalists have suddenly become endangered species in the country.

Bayo Ohu, an assistant editor of the political desk of The Guardian newspaper was violently shuffled into the ever-lengthening casualty list of assassins in the country. His home was invaded by no fewer than five well-armed assassins in the early morning of Sunday, September 20, 2009. The evil men barged into his home at about 7 a.m. on a Sunday when Christians were going to churches on a day that coincided with the end of the month-long Ramadan period. By the time the purveyors of death left Ohu’s house a few minutes later, the poor journalist was left writhing in a pool of his own blood before he finally gave up the host later, right in the presence of his children.

Ohu’s death has only lengthened the list of journalists who have had to pay the supreme price in the course of pracitising their profession. This time last year, it was Abayomi Ogundeji, a member of Thisday’s editorial board, who was gruesomely murdered by yet­ to-be-identified killers while on his way from an outing. Before Ogundeji was Godwin Agbroko, the chairman of Thisday’s editorial board who was killed in a similar circumstance about three years ago.

Several others have been killed both in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world, particularly in such troubled spots as Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Mexico, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Congo and Russia. While some were dispatched to the great beyond by bullets, or other lethal weapons, so many others have suffered false imprisonment and torture especially in North Korea and Iran in recent times.

Perhaps, Ohu’s killing bore some striking resemblance to the killing of Dele Giwa, Newswatch’s founding editor-in-chief, who was killed through the instrumentality of a parcel bomb on October 19,1986 some 23 years ago. Giwa was on his breakfast table at about 11am. That unholy Sunday morning, two men rode on an Okada (motorcycle) to his security post and delivered a parcel to a security man who in turn took it to Billy, Giwa’s first son, for onward delivery to his father. It was at the point of opening the envelope that the bomb, which was concealed inside the envelope and inflicted serious body injury on him which later led to his death.

Similarly, the attack on Ohu took place in the early morning of an unholy Sunday. Like Giwa, Ohu was in his house when he heard some knocks on the entranced door of his flat. As he made attempt to open the door, the evil men who had quickly positioned themselves opened fire on him. Ohu beat a retreat and attempted to exit through the kitchen door. Unknown to him, the agents of death had cordoned off the entire building. Another set of gunfire rang out by which time Ohu had been badly injured. By the time the killers were done, they left with his laptop computer and cell phone only without tampering with any other property.

The way and manner the attack was carried out bore imprints of a pre-meditated assassination. Since the poor boy was a journalist, a committed one at that, his mindless killing may not be unconnected with his professional duty. More and more privileged and powerful, highly placed Nigerians are daily getting involved in shady deals and all manners of crime and corruption. For these individuals, what matters to them is the continuous flow of their ill-gotten wealth. Therefore, any attempt to obstruct this is usually presented by all means at their disposal, including death through contract killing.

Ohu’s colleagues and ‘ogas’ as it were, had attested to his simplicity of nature and forthrightness of character. Therefore, he might not have been engaged in peddling stories for cash, which otherwise is blackmail and extortion. This is not to say that there are no cases of extortion or blackmail in the media.

But let us not belabour ourselves on what must have been the motive of the killers. This is because whatever must have gone wrong, nobody has the right to take another man’s life. What we need to do now is to assist the police to arrest his killers. My suggestion, therefore, is that the police should check the data of phone calls and text messages made to Ohu’s cell phone from the service providers. Similarly, his email should be opened, if his killers have not had access to it in order to delete his messages. Through his cell phone, the police can determine those who were in touch with him one or two weeks before the dastardly act was carried out. In this regard, it is important to know the calls or text messages he received until Sunday night because his killers might have made sure he was at home that Saturday night before they came calling to execute their nefarious plot.

On the day Giwa was killed, top security goons had made frantic calls to him to ensure that he was at home before the parcel bomb was delivered to his home.

And just like other people have suggested, there is need to look critically into Olu’s profile both in his official capacity and private life. His life in and outside the office, his circle of friends and where he relaxes or visits after work could provide a clue to what happened. His wife, close friends and the children who were present that morning could also offer useful information.

Lastly, the security agents should also look inwards because those who carried out the assassination could be serving or retired security personnel or some cultists around. In other words, no stone should be left unturned to unravel those behind this gruesome murder. This is important so as not to make journalists too vulnerable to this type of mindless killings by agents of darkness loitering everywhere in Nigeria.

Agekameh is the editor’s guest.

 

Dele Agekameh

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NCWS Hails RSG’s Steps Against Illegal Refining

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The President of the Rivers State Branch of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), Princess Mariam Tolofari, has commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for taking decisive steps against illegal oil refining, air pollution and environmental degradation in the state.
Speaking to journalists in Port Harcourt, state president of NCWS maintained that Wike’s physical visit to some sites of the illegal refineries, mandating and supporting the state security agencies, local government chairmen and chiefs to swiftly end illegal refining has significantly reduced the menace of soot and its attendant environmental degradation and health hazard in the state.
Tolofari said that the governor’s resolve to end the soot in the state was heroic and valiant, while also backing the governor’s call on the Federal Government to respond to the issues giving rise to the soot epidemic in the state.
“We appreciate the governor for taking the bold initiative against operators of illegal refineries and the hydra-headed monster of black soot in Rivers State. We pledge to sustain and support a Green State that is healthy and beneficial to us all”, she said.
She further urged women to restrain their children and wards from joining persons engaged in ‘Kpo fire’ activities and ensure they stay focused in the pursuit of academic excellence and genuine business goals not associated to crime.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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Join War Against ‘Kpo Fire’, Monarchs Tell Rivers People

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Some traditional rulers in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area have called on Rivers people to support the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike on the war against illegal oil bunkering.
The traditional rulers include the Paramount Ruler of Woji community, Eze Emeka Ihunwo, the EzeRisi/Ohia Mbam Abali, Eze Christopher Wonodi, and the Paramount Ruler of Iriebe community, Eze Jeremiah Worenwu.
The monarchs, who spoke in their palaces on the issue, said the war against ‘Kpofire’was a collective one as the situation has reached a dangerous point.
They also dismissed the claim that unemployment was responsible for the menace, adding that there was no society in the world where government employs everybody.
They also noted that the stealing of crude oil did not start today.
Speaking, Paramount Ruler of Woji community, Eze Emeka Ihunwo, said the situation has taken a serious pitch, adding that a lot of lives were being lost as a result of the soot.
Ihunwo also described the action of the governor as timely.
According to the Woji monarch, those in the business of illegal oil bunkering do not know the health hazard they were causing to the people.
Ihunwo said that, in 2018,he invited the youths to his palace and mobilise them against operators of illegal refineries using Woji as conduit channel for evacuation of illegally refined products, and stressed that because of the collective understanding and collaboration of all stakeholders, Woji has not recorded any such criminal act within the community.
He, therefore, challenged other monarchs to emulate the Woji example.
The monarch also acknowledged a reduction in soot in the atmosphere in the state capital, while the amount of oil spill on surfaces of water has also reduced.
Also speaking, the Eze Risi/Ohia Mbam Abali, Eze Christopher Wonodi, said the intervention of the governor has saved the people of the state from series of health challenges.
Wonodi said it behooves the people of Rivers State to give their maximum support to the governor to succeed in eliminating the scourge of the soot pandemic in the state.
He also advised the youths to desist from the nefarious act and find other legitimate means of eking out aliving.
Wonodi also said that his kingdom has started sensitising the people against involvement in illegal oil bunkering.
On his part, the Paramount Ruler of Iriebe community, Eze Jeremiah Worenwu said Wike has shown that he has the capacity to solve societal problems.
Worenwu said that Iriebe community would comply fully with the governor’s directive to stop illegal oil bunkering, and warned those who may want to delve into the illegal business to stay away from the community.
While describing the governor’s action as welcome, the Iriebe monarch said the war against ‘Kpo fire’ needs the support of all members of the society, including the security agencies.

By: John Bibor, Oribim Ibama

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ABOLGA Boss Declares Zero Tolerance On Oil Bunkering Activities

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The Chairman of Abua/Odual Local Government Area, Hon. Daniel Daniel has thrown his weight behind the ongoing war against soot in Rivers State, assuring that his administration would do everything humanly possible to smoke out the criminal cartels involved in the illicit business.
The chairman, who declared that his administration would not condone activities of artisanal crude oil refineries in Abua/Odual, said he would demolish all illegal oil refining sites in the LGA, as directed by the state governor.
Speaking after visiting one of the uncovered artisanal crude oil bunkering sites in Odau Community, Daniel commended the efforts of the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for his relentless pursuit towards bringing to an end the menace called soot, which was threatening the very existence of the people in Rivers State.
He added that the practical steps taken by the governor within the last few weeks was yielding results.
Daniel used the opportunity to caution those who play politics with the fight against soot in the state to desist forthwith.
He further added that it was not proper to politicise this all important issue, which was causing harm to the environment and killing the people slowly.
The chairman called on all indigenes and residents of Abua/Odual Local Government Area to join forces to nip the danger posed by the soot the bud.
The ABOLGA chief executive alsosaid that anyone with useful information onthe locationsof the sites and names of operators where illegal oil bunkering activities are taking place within the area should report with immediate effect, to him or the DPO of the Abua/Odual Divisional Police Command for necessary action.
He disclosed that as the chairman of council, he has knowledge of all forests/communities in the LGA, adding that his administration would leave no stone unturned in implementing the directives of the state governor.
The site visited in Odau Community has over 15 boiling pots and occupies an estimated geographical area of over one hectare of land.
The Tide learnt that the site is bounded by communities from Ahoada-West LGA of Rivers State and Ogbia LGA in Bayelsa State.
Those who accompanied the chairman on the enforcement visit are the DPO of the Divisional Police Command and his men; the C4i LGA commander and his team of gallant men.
Others are the Chief of Staff to the Chairman, Hon. Okpokipoiy Peters; Supervisor for Environment, Hon Vincent Reuben Obu; and his works counterpart, Hon. Zinami Fyneroad Iwariso; Special Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs to the Chairman, Hon Alex Walters who is an indigene of the Odau Community, among others.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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