The Nigerian Islamic fundamentalist group Jamā’atu Ahlis Sunnah Lādda’awatih wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, has continued to threaten journalists and media houses in the West African country.
The latest to come under Boko Haram threat for perceived bias is the popular private radio station Wazobia FM and its sister station Cool FM. The management of Globe Broadcasting and Communications Ltd, owners of Wazobia and Cool FM were Sunday issued a letter purportedly written by a group affiliated to Boko Haram. The letter reads in part:
“As we embark on fresh attacks to commemorate the insult done to our beloved Muhammad (SALLAHU ALAIHI WASALLAM), this is hereby warning you/alerting your station that you might be affected due to some disregard attitudes towards Islam and our people.
Reports came to us that your stations are Christians inclined and we made our investigations to ascertaining that. There are some people among you that fall in our target list as we noted their CAN membership and they shall expect our wrath in a short-while, but for now, WE WARN!
We also forewarn our Muslim brothers in the station not to be involved in any act of offence to Islam and that they should limit their movements into the stations to avoid being affected.”
There has been no official comment from the owners of Cool FM on the development.
In a similar warning last month, the group stated through a spokesman, Abu Qaqa that “They (the media) should understand that for us there is no difference between those fighting with arms and with the pen,” he said.
The Nigerian military authorities said in a statement that Qaqa, whose name frequently appears in pronouncements on behalf of the sect, was killed in a gun battle in Kano on Monday. He was killed with two other leading members of the sect.
The sect which seeks strict enforcement of Sharia law in Nigeria, carried out 136 attacks in Nigeria last year alone. It has killed over 2,300 people through multiple bomb and gun attacks since 2009.
The 8th annual conference of the Nigerian Guild of Editors which ended in Uyo, south-eastern Nigerian last Sunday deliberated on ways to ensure that journalists working in Nigeria remain secured and protected. ThisDay, Vanguard, The Punch, Voice of America, The Nation and BBC are some of the media outfits that have been threatened by the group.
Also threatened are some journalists who the group perceives to be critical of their operations. Among them are Sowore Omoyele, publisher of New York-based Nigerian publication Sahara Reporters, Ahmad Salkida, a Kano correspondent for Daily Trust newspaper, and Evelyn Tagbo, a former Gombe correspondent for BusinessDay who has also worked in the newspaper’s Ghana bureau of the newspaper. Her articles have been very critical of the group’s operations.
Speaking recently in Gombe, the national president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mohammed Garba stated that threats from Boko Haram has triggered some uneasiness within the Nigerian media fraternity.
“We are in dilemma, we are confused. The threat is going to further compound the problems of the media industry in Nigeria which I think it is not going to be good for democracy and the development of this country,” Garba said.
By Nancy Annan in Calabar, Nigeria