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Friday, 27 April 2012

UPDATE: Bomb Attacks on Nigerian Newspapers

Boko Haram Allegedly Claims Responsibility 

By: Nish Thanki, IPI Staff

Rescue personnel recover mangled bodies wrapped in black polythene at the site of a bomb blast at This Day newspaper premises in Abuja April 26, 2012. The office of Nigeria's This Day newspaper in the northern city of Kaduna was bombed on Thursday, security sources said, the same day a bomber killed at least three people in the paper's building in the capital Abuja. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

VIENNA, April 27, 2012 - A total of eight casualties have been confirmed following attacks on media houses in Nigeria on Thursday, April 26. Militant Islamist group Boko Haram has allegedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

A suicide bomber in an explosives-laden car drove into the offices of ThisDay newspaper in Abuja, while a bomb was thrown at a building housing the offices of The Sun, ThisDay and The Moment in Kaduna, according to the Associated Press and other reports.

The Sun’s chief editor and managing editor, Tony Onyima, told IPI that five employees of ThisDay were killed in the attack in Abuja. The total number of people injured has yet to be confirmed. Eniola Bello, managing director of ThisDay, told IPI that security guards and administrative staff were killed in the explosion. No journalists were killed, as most of them had not yet arrived in the office at the time of the explosion. Bello confirmed to IPI that there were five casualties in Abuja and three in Kaduna. He added that they believed the attacks were intended to "stop us from doing our job".

In a statement released shortly after the attack, the IPI Nigerian National Committee expressed its shock and condemnation for the attacks on ThisDay and The Sun. "The attacks were not only murderous, they were totally unprovoked. We condemn this onslaught against the free press; we reject this attempt to muzzle the Nigerian media. The IPI Nigerian chapter urges the media not to be intimidated by this dastardly act," the statement said.

In an interview with Nigerian news website, Premium Times, Abul Qaqa, spokesman for Boko Haram allegedly claimed responsibility for the attack on ThisDay’s building, in Abuja. Qaqa claimed that the attacks were a message to the media that the group will no longer accept misrepresentation. “We have repeatedly cautioned reporters and media houses to be professional and objective in their reports. This is a war between us and the Government of Nigeria; unfortunately the media have not been objective and fair in their report of the ongoing war, they chose to take side,” Qaqa said to Premium Times.

In the interview, Qaqa accused the press of attributing statements to Boko Haram that were never made in interviews. Qaqa said to Premium Times that they targeted ThisDay for its "sins", for producing false stories to foster a negative view of Boko Haram. Furthermore, Qaqa accused the newspaper of insulting the Prophet Mohammed in 2002.

Chillingly, Qaqa purportedly warned of further attacks in the interview with Premium Times, "We have just started this new campaign against the media and we will not stop here, we will hit the media hard since they have refused to listen to our plea for them to be fair in their reportage. In the coming days we will give details and instances where the media have not been fair to us and why we are going to attack them as well."

"IPI is saddened at the horrific attack against our colleagues in Nigeria and express our utmost admiration for their courage to continue working in such dangerous conditions," said IPI Acting Deputy Director, Anthony Mills. "We are extremely disturbed at reports that Boko Haram is targeting the media as a mean to achieve its political objectives. This is not acceptable, and we urge the Nigerian authorities to ensure that the perpetrators of this attack are brought to justice swiftly."

The full statement from the Nigerian National Committee of the International Press Institute:

IPI CONDEMNS BOMBING OF MEDIA HOUSES IN NIGERIA

April 26, 2012 - The Nigerian National Committee of the International Press Institute (IPI) received with shock and disbelief, the news of the bombing of ThisDay newspapers office in Abuja and ThisDay and The Sun offices in Kaduna.

The attacks were not only murderous, they were totally unprovoked. We condemn this onslaught against the free press; we reject this attempt to muzzle the Nigerian media.

The IPI Nigerian chapter urges the media not to be intimidated by this dastardly act.

We send our condolences to ThisDay and The Sun Newspapers and to the families of the victims of the bombings.

We urge our media houses to be more alert and take stringent measures to protect the lives of journalists and other workers as well as to secure their properties.

Kabiru Yusuf
Chairman,
IPI Nigerian National Committee

Raheem Adedoyin
Secretary,
IPI Nigerian National Committee

_________________________________________________________________

IPI Condemns Bomb Attacks on Nigeria Newspapers

Explosions at Two Newspaper Buildings

By Naomi Hunt, IPI Press Freedom Adviser for Africa and the Middle East

VIENNA, April 26, 2012 – The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of publishers, editors and leading journalists, condemned in the strongest possible terms today's bomb attacks on Nigerian newspaper buildings.

A suicide bomber in an explosives-laden car drove into the offices of ThisDay newspaper in Abuja, killing at least six people, while a bomb was thrown at a building housing the offices of The Sun, ThisDay and The Moment in Kaduna, according to the Associated Press and other reports.

IPI called on the Nigerian police and security forces to carry out a thorough investigation into the attacks and ensure that whoever is behind them is prosecuted.

“Our heartfelt condolences go to the families and friends of those who lost their lives today,” said IPI Acting Deputy Director Anthony Mills. “We call on the police to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation that results in the arrest of the masterminds behind this attack. The Nigerian authorities are responsible for ensuring the security of journalists, and ensuring an end to impunity in Nigeria.”

ThisDay Board Chairman Olusegun Adeniyi told the Daily Trust that two people had been confirmed dead while five others were wounded. The Abuja printing plant, one of two such facilities belonging to ThisDay in Nigeria, has been completely obliterated, according to managing director Eniola Bello, who spoke to IPI from Lagos.

The Sun’s chief editor and managing director Tony Onyima told IPI that three casualties had so far been confirmed in Kaduna, a city that has been the site of ethnic violence in the past.  “We have no  clue what the reason was," he said by phone from Lagos. "For them to have targeted media houses shows that this matter has reached a ridiculous level. We will take steps to protect our staff, and this will not deter us from telling the truth.” 

While it is not yet clear who is behind the attacks, the terrorist group Boko Haram last year threatened to go after media for allegedly misrepresenting it in reports. The group claimed responsibility for the October 2011 killing of Zakariyya Isa, a journalist working for the state-run Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), and said he had been “spying” for the government.  In January 2012, Eneche Akogwu of Channels TV was shot while covering the aftermath of a terror attack carried out by Boko Haram in the city of Kano that took the lives of over 170 people, according to news reports.