Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 16:37 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Nigeria

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1997
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Nigeria, February 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5650fc.html [accessed 30 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

January 4
Paul Adams, Financial Times, IMPRISONED

Adams, a correspondent for the London-based Financial Times, was arrested by State Security Service agents in Bori, a major town in southeast Nigeria's Ogoniland. Adams was covering local protests against pollution caused by oil firms and local demands for a greater share in oil revenues. He was transferred to Port Harcourt, where he remained in detention until his release on Jan. 11. Adams was charged with "possession of seditious literature" in connection with a leaflet about Ogoni issues that was in his possession at the time of his arrest.

February 2
Alex Ibru, The Guardian, ATTACKED

Ibru, publisher of the independent daily newspaper The Guardian and a former Internal Affairs Minister in Gen. Sani Abacha's government, was shot and wounded by unknown assailants in the evening, while driving from his office to his home in Lagos. Ibru, who sustained gunshot wounds to his face and left hand, was transported to London for emergency medical care. Police have classified the attempted murder of Ibru as attempted armed robbery, and arrested nine men in connection with the crime, despite the fact that nothing was stolen from Ibru's car or from his person. In a letter to Gen. Abacha, CPJ condemned the attack and called for an investigation into the attempted murder of Ibru.

February 15
Hillary Anderson, British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), HARASSED

Anderson, a correspondent for the BBC, was arrested by State Security Service (SSS) agents as she was leaving the Reuter office in Lagos. Anderson was transported to SSS headquarters and detained without charge. She was released on Feb. 16. Anderson had arrived in Lagos just days before her arrest to begin her work for the BBC.

March
Jude Sinnee, newspaper vendor, IMPRISONED

Armed agents of the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force arrested Sinnee, a newspaper vendor in Bori, an Ogoni settlement in Rivers State, at his newsstand. The agents also seized 500 copies of various publications and the vendor's accumulated sales of the day. They then transported Sinnee to the Internal Security Task Force's office at Kpor, near Bori, where he is being held incommunicado. Sinnee, a disabled person, went on a hunger strike to protest his detention.

Early March
Baguda Kaltho, TheNEWS, KILLED

Kaltho, the Kaduna-based senior correspondent for TheNEWS, has been missing since the first week of March. Kaltho left the newspaper's editorial office alone one evening and has not been seen since. TheNEWS management and Kaltho's family have been unable to ascertain his whereabouts, and he is presumed dead.

May
Chinedu Offoaro, The Guardian, KILLED

Offoaro, a reporter for The Guardian, has been missing since the third week of May. Offoaro failed to return to The Guardian's editorial offices on May 26 as expected from a reporting assignment in Owerri, in Imo State. His family has been unsuccessful in their attempts to locate him and fear he is dead. State Security Service officials have refused to cooperate with the family, and have not answered questions about whether they detained Offoaro.

May 15
George Onah, Vanguard, IMPRISONED

Onah, defense correspondent for the independent newspaper Vanguard, was arrested without charge and is being held in incommunicado detention. Onah is being pressured to reveal his sources for an article he wrote about promotions and other changes in rank among Nigerian military officers. On Dec. 31, Chief of Defense Staff Maj. Gen. Abdul Salaam Abubakar told reporters that he would look into Onah's case, but to date officials have not released any information on Onah's status or location.

May 28
Alphonsus Agborh, Punch, IMPRISONED

Police arrested Agborh, a reporter for the independent daily Punch, at the newspaper's editorial office in Port Harcourt. Although authorities gave no official reason for the arrest, observers believe it is related to a May 26 article in Punch about Nigeria's importation of weapons from a South African company. On May 31, Agborh was released on bail.

June 24
Hassan Anwar, Middle East News Agency, IMPRISONED, EXPELLED

Anwar was detained by Nigerian security authorities when he applied for a residence permit to begin his assignment as correspondent in Abuja for the Middle East News Agency. Anwar had been officially welcomed by the minister of information, but the security authorities accused him of coming to Nigeria to carry out a mission. They were not specific about what kind of mission or what organization he was thought to be representing. Anwar was released after one week and ordered to leave Nigeria immediately; he arrived in Egypt on July 1.

July 31
Okina Deesor, Radio Rivers, IMPRISONED

Deesor, a producer with Radio Rivers in the state of Rivers, was arrested and detained at the Government House Cell prison, reportedly without food or water. On Aug. 3, he was transferred to the Mobile Police Headquarters in Port Harcourt. According to Maj. Obi Umabi, who ordered the arrest, Deesor's detention was in connection with the July 18 Radio Rivers broadcast of the national anthem of the Ogoni people. As of Dec. 18, Deesor remained in prison. In a letter to President Sani Abacha, CPJ denounced Deesor's continued detention and asked for his immediate and unconditional release.

August 11
Bayo Onanuga, TheNEWS, IMPRISONED
Babafemi Ojudu, TheNEWS, IMPRISONED

Onanuga and Ojudu, editors of the independent weekly magazine TheNEWS, were arrested by State Security Service (SSS) agents in connection with the newspaper's reports about Dan Etete, the oil minister, and Mariam Abacha, the wife of Gen. Sani Abacha. The two editors were taken to Shagisha prison on the outskirts of Lagos. Ojudu was released on Aug. 13. Onanuga was transferred to the Lagos State Federal Intelligence Office at Alagbon Close and released on Aug. 17.

October 13
Dele Alake, National Concord, ATTACKED

Alake, editor of the National Concord, escaped an attack by gunmen in Lagos as he drove toward the Murtala Muhammed Airport. He managed to drive to a police station, where he reported the incident. Witnesses said that the assailants' car had been spotted before the incident near the editorial offices of the National Concord.

October 13
Richard Akinnola, National Concord, IMPRISONED, HARASSED

Akinnola, the judicial correspondent for the independent daily National Concord, was arrested without charge by State Security Service (SSS) agents and detained at the SSS office on Awolowo Road in Lagos. He was released without explanation on Nov. 20.

December 18
Godwin Agbroko, The Week, IMPRISONED

Three men who said they were security agents arrested Agbroko, editor in chief of the privately owned weekly magazine The Week, at his office. Observers believe the arrest is in connection with an article in the Dec. 16-23 edition of The Week titled "A Deadly Power Play," about a dispute between Army Chief of Staff Ishaya Bamaiyi and Guard Brigade Commander Yakubu Mu'azu.

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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