MRA sues FG for failure to probe killers of 11 journalists

[FILES] Scale of justice

Stop giving voice to separatist agitators, Masari urges media

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has filed a suit at the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja over failure of the Federal Government to investigate and prosecute killers of 11 journalists between 1998 and 2019.

This is as Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State has called on the media to stop giving voice to those calling for break-up of the country, saying that such calls are unpatriotic.

In the suit filed yesterday, MRA is also asking the court to direct government to pay the families of each of the journalists N10 million as reparation.

The suit filed by Abuja-based lawyer, Mr. Darlington Onyekwere, along with Ms Chioma Nwaodike, Ms Obioma Okonkwo and Mr Sideeq Rabiu, MRA claimed that despite the Nigerian government’s obligations under various domestic, regional and international instruments, it failed or refused to investigate and prosecute the killers of the journalists, while they were exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression and of the press.

Unless the court intervenes, the government would neither adopt measures to protect journalists nor cause any real, transparent and impartial investigation into the killings of journalists in Nigeria, while the perpetrators of such dastardly act will not be prosecuted, MRA insisted.

The journalists that were reportedly killed include The Guardian newspaper’s Ogun State Bureau Chief, Mr. Tunde Oladepo (killed in his Abeokuta home on February 26, 1998 in the presence of his wife and two young children); Publisher of Newsservice magazine, Mr. Okezie Amauben (reportedly shot dead by a police officer in Enugu on September 2, 1998); a freelance journalist with The Guardian, Fidelis Ikwuebe (abducted and murdered on April 18, 1999 while covering violent clashes between the Aguleri and Umuleri communities in Anambra State); Sam Nimfa-Jan of Details magazine in Jos, Plateau State (killed in Kafanchan, Kaduna State, on May 27, 1999 while covering riots between Hausa, Fulani and Zangon-Kataf groups and his body was found with arrows protruding from his back); and Samson Boyi, a photojournalist with the Adamawa State-owned newspaper, The Scope (killed by armed men on November 5, 1999 while on assignment to cover a visit by the then Governor Boni Haruna, to Bauchi State.)

The others are Mr. Bayo Ohu, an assistant news editor with The Guardian (shot in his home in Lagos on September 20, 2009); Nathan Dabak, Sunday Bwede, Mr. Zakariya Isa, Mr. Enenche Akogwu, and Mr. Precious Owolabi, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member serving with Channels Television.

MEANWHILE, Governor Masari called on the media to stop giving voice to those calling for break-up of the country, saying that such calls are unpatriotic.

The governor, who made the call in Kaduna at the weekend while receiving two awards from Nagarta, a Kaduna-based AM radio station, said the media had played a great role in the development of Nigeria and should not mess up its achievements.

Represented by the Commissioner for Information, Alhaji AbdulKarim Sirika, the governor said “the media has a greater role to play” to keep Nigeria united in the face of calls for secession.

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