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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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June 12: DSS Issues Stern Warning Against Protest

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The Department of State Services (DSS) has warned individuals and groups planning to stage protests on June 12, Democracy Day, to desist from any violent or disruptive actions.
The warning was contained in a statement signed by the Director of Public Relations and Strategic Communications, DSS, Dr Peter Afunanya, yesterday.
The Service said it has received intelligence on plans to incite violence and disrupt public order during the protests.
The security agency vowed to maintain public safety and national security and urged citizens to resist any persuasions to engage in lawless acts.
The DSS also encouraged disgruntled persons to channel their grievances through appropriate channels and procedures.
Afunanya said: “The attention of the Department of State Services (DSS) has been drawn to plans by certain individuals and groups to stage physical protests in some parts of the country on 12th June 2024. These protests are designed with sinister objectives to coincide with the Democracy Day Celebration.
“While citizens may have the rights of assembly and expression, such freedoms should not be used to undermine public safety and national security. The determination by some non-state actors to incite mass disaffection through demonstrations that may turn violent will not be tolerated.
“Citizens are, therefore, called upon to resist any persuasions to be lawless or cause disorder and anarchy in the nation. Displeased persons are rather encouraged to appropriately channel their grievances through the right channels and procedures.
“The Service, while felicitating the government and citizens on this auspicious occasion of celebrating 25 years of unbroken democracy, calls for continued patriotism, unity and commitment to building a Nigeria of our collective dream.
“The Service will sustain collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, including sister security agencies, to maintain the peace as well as protect lives and property across the nation. Law-abiding citizens are enjoined to go about their businesses without fear.”

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Court’s CTC Validates Our Position On Amaewhule, Others -Rivers AG …Advises Media Against Misinterpretation Of Judgements

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The Rivers State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Dagogo Israel Iboroma, SAN, has said that the State High Court neither declared nor affirmed Martin Amaewhule as Speaker of the House of Assembly, stressing that the certified true copy (CTC) of court judgment validates the government’s position.
Mr Iboroma also urged media practitioners to desist from giving interpretations to court judgments by fiat, emotional or other shades of persuasions.
Rather, he advised that they should first obtain the judgement in order to read it thoroughly to gain proper understanding or at best, seek competent legal advice before going to press.
Mr Iboroma gave the advice yesterday night while briefing newsmen after obtaining the certified true copy (CTC) of the Monday court judgment in Port Harcourt.
The briefing was to restate his earlier position that there was no court ruling that ever declared or affirmed Martin Amaewhule and 26 others as members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Rivers State House of Assembly.
Iboroma said: “Yesterday (Monday), I briefed the press and made the point that there is a misrepresentation of the judgment of the High Court of Rivers State in Suit No. DHC/20/CS/2024 in social, print, and electronic media.
“My position has been confirmed and vindicated by the Certified True Copy of the court order in Suit No. DHC/20/CS/2024.”
Mr Iboroma stated that a court order embodied the enforceable decisions of a court, adding that in this case in focus, the enforceable orders of the court will necessarily entail the specific pronouncements of the court.
He listed the three orders of the court in the judgment to include: “That this Suit be and is hereby dismissed/struck out for want of jurisdiction.
“That the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) be and is hereby joined as 4th defendant.
“That the claimants’ case be and is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit.”
Mr Iboroma further said: “Contrary to the false claims and misrepresentation in social, print and electronic media, the court did not make a declaration that Martin Amaewhule is the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, neither did it make a declaration that Martin Amaewhule and 26 others are members of the Rivers State House of Assembly and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“If it were so, it would have been embodied in the court orders which have been circulated to you all and displayed by me here for the purpose of clarity.”
Mr Iboroma regretted that by the deliberate misrepresentation of yesterday (Monday), the court was painted in bad light and the public misled with such misinformation.
He said: “Whatever finding of fact that is not included in the court order is an Obiter Dictum, which has no binding force.
“Once again, I respectively urge the media to desist from giving any interpretation to any judgement without first reading the content of the judgement and seeking legal advice,” the attorney-general added.

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Sexual Harassment: Minister Drags Perm Sec Before Head Of Service

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, has formally lodged a complaint with the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation regarding allegations of sexual harassment levelled against the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Ibrahim Lamuwa.
In a letter addressed to the HOCSF dated May 27, 2024, Tuggar expressed his concern over the serious nature of the allegation levelled against the permanent secretary by Mrs Simisola Ajayi.
He emphasised the importance of addressing the matter urgently and thoroughly.
The letter was titled, “Re: Official Complaint Regarding Sexual Harassment Of Mrs Simisola Fajemirokun Ajayi By Ambassador Ibrahim Adamu Lamuwa (Permanent Secretary Ministry Of Foreign Affairs.
It read, “I am compelled to write to inform you of a formal complaint against the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Adamu Lamuwa, on allegations of sexual harassment.
“Bearing in mind the gravity of the matter, I feel it necessary to draw your attention to it and ask that you handle it accordingly,”
The letter included an attachment of the complaint received via email, and Tuggar assured the HOCSF his full cooperation in the investigation.
“May I also assure you that I remain available to provide you with any assistance required in discharging your responsibilities,” he added.
Ajayi, had a petition dated May 29, 2024, addressed to Tuggar, accused the permanent secretary of serial sexual harrasment.
Ajayi, through her lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), called for a thorough investigation into the actions of Amb. Lamuwa.
The petition, signed by Adebayo A. Oniyelu LP of Falana & Falana’s, was titled “Request For An Investigation Of Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa’s Conducts Of Sexual Harassment At The Place Of Work, Abuse Of Office, Official Intimidation And Discrimination.”
According to the petition, Ajayi narrated multiple instances of harassment allegedly by Lamuwa, which have created an unsafe and uncomfortable working environment.
She claimed for instance that during a policy retreat on October 7, 2023, Lamuwa allegedly made inappropriate advances towards her, suggesting she joined him in his hotel room.
He reportedly continued with inappropriate remarks throughout the retreat.
She also cited an incident on November 10, 2023, where Lamuwa allegedly invited Ajayi to travel to Hong Kong, promising significant personal benefits from the trip.

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