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African Press: Courage Under Fire

13 January 2010 13 January 2010 Tags: , , No Comment Print This Post Print This Post

AfrobeatRadio brings your attention to attacks that are being perpetrated on the Press in Africa.

Incredibly high numbers of killed Somali Journalists (see Deadliest Countries in 2009 table and video clip below) seem to be almost low when compared with the number of Journalists killed in Philippines. We ask the world to pay attention so that not even one more Journalist gets hurt defending the truth.

Read below the sourced accounts of the circumstances of certain Journalists, and what their associates and families face because apparently  they are all guilty of  professional integrity and the pursuit of truth.

Journalists Killed in 2009

“…the gunmen hit him with a volley of bullets.”


It was another gruesome murder in Nigeria yesterday. The Guardian’s Assistant News Editor and an ace political reporter, Bayo Ohu, was shot dead in his apartment in Egbeda, a Lagos suburb. Ohu was just getting set to attend Church service after seeing off his wife, Ochuko, and sister-in-law, to the early morning service when the gunmen came knocking on his door at about 6:52 a.m.

According to eye-witnesses, the five or six men came in a white Toyota Camry saloon car, wearing white flowing gowns with matching skull caps. They made no attempt to enter any other apartment in the four-flat house. Ohu heard a knock on his door and as he opened the front door to ask who was knocking, the gunmen hit him with a volley of bullets. His blood made a huge splash all over the door. He staggered back into the house screaming for help, but his assailants followed him inside and rained more bullets into him. Curiously, the assailants made away with only his laptop and mobile phone handset.


“Four days before his death at the hands of unknown assailants, Godwin Agbroko wrote a sharp criticism of the primary elections…”


Four days before his death at the hands of unknown assailants, Godwin Agbroko wrote a sharp criticism of the primary elections conducted by the Nigerian ruling party headed by the outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo. In his opinion, the emergence of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, as the People Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate was “the handiwork of a military garrison compulsion”. A fearless, well informed journalist and social commentator in a country where the media is often the only effective opposition to the rulers, Agbroko had for almost two decades, took on the Nigerian ruling elite with his journalism.

No person was considered too sacred for him to interrogate. For his outspokenness, he was detained and tortured several times and was honoured in 1997 with the prestigious Pen/Barbara Goldman Freedom to Write Award. Journalism offered Agbroko a scope of self-expression and an opportunity for radical interventions which ordinarily might not come across in personal interactions with him. He is survived by Rachel, his wife and five children. Godwin Agbroko; Born on March 19, 1953, died on December 22, 2006. Godwin Agbroko wa a fearless Nigerian journalist who took on the political class


“…the gunmen asked him to open his car door but he refused and was shot in the process.”


Abayomi OgundejiUnidentified gunmen yesterday killed Abayomi Ogundeji, former media aide of Chief Olufemi Pedro, former deputy governor of Lagos State and governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the state. Late Ogundeji was until his death a part time member of the editorial board of ThisDay newspaper. P.M.News gathered that he was shot dead around 10.30 pm around Dopemu (near Tower Aluminium) yesterday by the gunmen. Sources told P.M.News that the gunmen asked him to open his car door but he refused and was shot in the process. In an interview he granted Tessy Okoye of The Sun early this morning, he said that journalism was a profession that filled him with pride and that it was a great honour and privilege for him to be a journalist.


ThisDay management has urged the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, to investigate the murder of its former member of the Editorial Board, Mr. Abayomi Ogundeji, who was shot dead in his car on Sunday evening. According to a petition dated August 18, 2008 and signed by its Managing Director, Mr. Eniola Bello, the newspaper said, “We have strong reason to believe that policemen on night patrol may have a clue to the circumstances surrounding Ogundeji’s death.” The newspaper hinged its argument on the reports of its Chief Security Officer, Mr. Jacob Okolo, and the Nigerian Compass which indicated that policemen might have shot Ogundeji.


“A prominent Gambian journalist was killed in a pre-meditated operation…”


A prominent Gambian journalist was killed in a pre-meditated operation by well-organised professionals says media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders. Deida Hydara’s death three weeks ago had striking similarities with murders of other critics of the regime of President Yahya Jammeh, the group says. Deyda Hydara edited the Point newspaper and worked for AFP
Source: BBC NEWS

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the brutal murder of Deyda Hydara, editor and co-founder of the Point daily newspaper in Gambia. Hydara was fatally shot by unknown attackers on 16 December 2004. The murderers remain at large. Disturbingly, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh seems uninterested in pursuing the murderers. In June this year, he told reporters that his government “has for long been accused by the international community and so-called human rights organizations for the murder of Deyda Hydara, but we have no stake in this issue.” Referring to the online version of the Point, he added, “And up to now one of these stupid websites carries “Who Killed Deyda Hydara”? Let them go and ask Deyda who killed him.”

Source: IFEX.ORG

“Journalists are routinely harassed…”


Gambian journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh, who has been missing for nearly three years, is no longer alive, a senior police source at Gambia’s notorious Mile Two prison told AFP Monday. The police source, who would not give his name saying he would be arrested or killed if he was identified, said he last saw Manneh at the prison sometime last year when he was taken away by a plain clothed officer in the middle of the night. “That was the last day I set my eyes on him and to the best of my knowledge, Chief Manneh is not alive”, he told AFP.

Manneh, who worked for the pro-government newspaper the Daily Observer, disappeared in July 2006 after being picked up in the newspaper building by men who said they were with the Gambian intelligence service NIA. Sources at the newspaper say Manneh was targetted because he was working on an article which criticized the Gambian government for a foreign news organisation. The Gambian authorities have always denied they were holding Manneh in custody. Human rights organisations estimate that some 40 Gambians are being held at various detention centres without trial, years after being taken into custody. Journalists are routinely harassed and many independent reporters have faced court cases for sedition or giving false information.


“It’s just a few short weeks into the year and two journalists have lost their lives…”


It’s just a few short weeks into the year and two journalists have lost their lives, simply for doing their jobs. In Kenya, freelance journalist Francis Nyaruri was abducted and killed, and in Somalia, radio journalist Said Tahlil Ahmed was shot dead in a market. These killings are a reminder of the continued danger that so many media workers currently face in the East and Horn of Africa. Francis Nyaruri, who wrote under the pen name Mong’are Mokua, was a reporter for the Kenyan private paper, Weekly Citizen in Nyamira, Nyanza district. His family had reported him missing on 15 January and his body was discovered on 30 January. Nyaruri had previously published articles exposing corruption, brutality and other malpractice by the local police. The Kenyan police are reportedly one of the least trusted institutions in the country, with a recent Steadman Group opinion poll showing that only 18 per cent of the public trust the police, largely because of corruption and bribe taking.

Source: PDF

“His body was discovered with his hands tied behind his back…”

Press campaigners have condemned the killing of a Kenyan journalist whose decapitated body has been found dumped in a forest. The dead journalist was identified as Francis Kainda Nyaruri. His body was discovered with his hands tied behind his back and deep gashes on his body. The campaign group, Reporters Without Borders, said Mr Nyaruri was reported missing last month after writing about alleged corruption. His body was found last Thursday in Kodera Forest, in Nyanza Province, western Kenya. “We call on the police to pursue all possible leads and ensure that the perpetrators of this hideous crime are brought to justice,” said Tom Rhodes, the Africa co-ordinator of the Committee for the Protection of Journalists. Francis Nyaruri’s latest articles for the privately owned Weekly Citizen highlighted alleged financial irregularities within the local police.

Source: BBC NEWS

“…killed by a mail bomb in his home…”



Dele Giwa was a Nigerian journalist (editor and founder of Newswatch magazine) who was killed by a mail bomb in his home on October 19, 1986.  His wife and infant daughter were upstairs when the bomb exploded, and were unharmed. According to Giwa’s lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi, State Security Service (SSS) officials summoned the popular editor to their headquarters on October 17, just 48 hours before he was killed. Giwa was accused of planning a social revolution and of smuggling arms into the country.

The government’s coat of arms appeared on the outside of the package, according to Nigerian press reports.[citation needed] Although police investigated the murder, no one was ever prosecuted. In 2001, former Nigerian dictator Ibrahim Babangida, who ruled the country from 1985 to 1993, refused to testify before a national human rights commission about the Giwa murder.


This article is prompted by NEXT‘s recent post that alleged attempts by two armed plain clothed security operatives on Saturday, January 9th, 2010, to forcibly gain access into their  premises located on Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun in Lagos. Giving the political atmosphere in Nigeria we are re-posting the NEXT story in its entirety for the record.

“The men, who were armed with automatic pistols, demanded to speak to any editor around.”

234 NEXT

An attempt was made by two armed plain clothed security operatives on Saturday to forcibly gain access into the premises of Timbuktu Media, publishers of NEXT on Sunday and NEXT Daily, located on Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun in Lagos.

Forceful entry
At about 5.10 pm, two middle aged men dressed in button-up shirts arrived our premises in a gray coloured Honda car with plate number AA 736 AKN. The men, who originally introduced themselves as
Protocol Officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), demanded for copies of last Friday and Sunday editions. They claimed they wanted to make some clarifications on a story published on the organisation. However, when they were given the Friday edition of NEXT, they said it wasn’t what they were looking for and subsequently asked to be given a copy of this week’s NEXT On Sunday. But the security personnel on duty explained that copies of the paper would not be available until the next day. This explanation got the men agitated and they attempted to gain entry into our premises by force, but were prevented by the police constable on guard.

In search of editors
The men, who were armed with automatic pistols, demanded to speak to any editor around. When their demands were not granted, they blocked the entrance to the premises with their car and threatened not to let anyone in or out. This was followed by a heated exchange of words between the man and the resilient constable. One of them claimed to be his superior, and said he could order the policemen on duty to vacate their duty post. When they realised that the security personnel on duty would not budge, they got into their car and left. One of them remained, however, to watch over the premises from across the road. Some of the members of our staff who had gone to deliver copies of NEXT ON SUNDAY at the airport, and who had seen the car as it left our premises, claimed to have noticed the car trailing them from the airport.

Source: NEXT

In the recent years this deadly trend seems to escalate. We have reached the point when public condemnation is not enough – we need coordinated actions to bring those guilty to justice. Flow and archiving of all related information will help do that eventually. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an independent nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide by defending the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal provides us with a view of  the dangers faced by Journalists all over the world. CPJ’s work reveals abuses against the press, and acts on behalf of imprisoned and threatened Journalists. CPJ also produces the most comprehensive annual survey of press freedom from around the world. 97 Journalists and media workers were killed in 2009. In 2008, 120  journalists were killed. We invite your contributions and comment on the repression of the Press worldwide.

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