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Journalism -The Risks of Covering High Profile Individuals in Nigeria

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By Jane Anderson

When Segun Olamide opened his gate as he was preparing to drive off to work on the 18 of August 2019, he did not know that it was going to be his last day on earth.

As Segun opened his gate to drive off to work, some armed assailants wasted seven rounds of bullets on him, killing him instantly. His wife and children witnessed the killing and immediately called the police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Segun was 41years of age at the time of his death. Segun was a news editor of The Punch, an independent daily newspaper in Nigeria. According to the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Segun’smurder was a hit.

They believed he was targeted for his Fulani Herdsmen Organized crime reporting. They said the murder was related to a media investigation he was working on concerning several alleged offences such as fraud, extortion, blackmailing and money laundryby Nigeria’s most notorious organized criminals popularly known as the Fulani herdsmen.

His wife also confirmed that one of the leaders of the Fulani Herdsmen, AlhajiSani Mustafa,threatened her husband on the phone three days before his death, for trying to expose him and his cohort. She said her late husband told her that he was working on a link between series of alleged money extortion by the community leader, a known notorious herdsman Nurudeen Kasali, and an attack and the killings of several farmers in Keffi community, in Nassarawa State.

Segun’s wife said her husband reported the threat to the Nigerian police, but they paid a nonchalant attitude towards her late husband’s complaint. She said the police also display the same nonchalant attitude towards investigating her late husband’s death. She added that ‘two policemen only came to me once and asked me about a particular cell phone and laptop that wouldn’t switch on, to see if they belong to my husband. I looked at the phone and laptop and I told them it didn’t belong to my husband; and they left and never returned for further inquiries.’

She said the assailant took away her husband’s laptop and phone, however, she stated that she handed her late husband’s gathered evidence of his investigations, which included: her late husband’s written piece, Affidavits of facts by some farmers and their witnesses, audio tapes testimonies and series of bank account numbers. Yet, she said the police have done nothing to arrest anyone involved in the extortions nor in her late husband’s death.

She is convinced the police has not done enough to find her husband’s killers because they fear the Fulani herdsmen coming after them and their families personally. Obuba Bolanle, a spokesman for socio-cultural organization for Keffi people, was also curious about why the assailants took away Segun’s laptop. Bolanle said the police should have interrogated the farmersin the audio tapes to clear up the allegations of money extortion by Alhaji Sani Mustafa and the link to the murder of Segun – especially given his past press coverage and criticism of how the police have handled allegations of the Fulani herdsmen attacks and killings of farmers in Keffi community – as well as previous accusations of misconducts against the Divisional Police Officer in Keffi on how he has handled complaint made against the Fulani herdsmen.

Although three men were later arrested and accused of the murder, like many similar killings in Nigeria,Segun’s assassination has remained unsolved, and none of the authorities seems to be concerned, regardless of how the family of the slain journalist feels.

A Westernpost publication, reported that like Segun, journalists Godwin Agbroko, Paul Abayomi Ogundeji, Zakariya Isa, NansokSallah, EnencheAkogwu and Ikechukwu Udendu, were all killed at their private homes in the city because of their criticism of the police handling of Fulani herdsmen attacks in Nigeria, and yet the status of the investigations into their deaths has not been available to the media to access despite numerous official request to provide the information.

In Nigeria, leaving such killings uninvestigated only emboldens other criminal syndicates, often allegedly headed by high-ranking state elites, in their activities. As long as the government and the police turn a blind eye to the leaders of the Fulani herdsmen atrocities perpetrated on innocent famers, there are bound to be many more killings like Segun who will be snatched from their loved ones for daring to challenge any power of organized syndicates. Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, upon leaving office in 2007, had alleged that the killers of former Attorney-General of Nigeria Chief Bola Ige, murdered in 2001, were drug barons that he was about to expose. And, more recently, the intimidatory power wielded by Nigeria’s criminal networks has seen a highly performing governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, drop his bid for a second term after former governor Bola Tinubu, who enjoys the patronage of political thugs in Lagos, bullied him out of the race.

Segun’s body was laid to rest on August 25th,2019 in his hometown, Luma,Kwara State. Still, justice has not been concluded in the same way. The police told his wife that Segun’s murder seems to be a simple case of armed robbery gone wrong. One phone and one laptop were later recovered; however, his wife confirmed they were not Segun’s property. Many suspect that Segun was targeted because of his line of work as a journalist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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