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Monday, 21 September 2009

Nigerian Journalist Shot Dead after Opening Door to Killers

IPI Calls for Immediate, Thorough Investigation 

By: Nayana Jayarajan, IPI Communications Officer

The assistant news editor of Nigerian daily The Guardian, Bayo Ohu, was shot dead at home by a group of up to five gunmen on Sunday morning as he was preparing to go to a church service. The killers fired at least eight bullets into him, after he opened the door to them, news reports said. 

The journalist’s wife had already left the house to attend church, and he was to follow shortly with their children when he was attacked. Eyewitnesses reported that a group of five men driving a white Toyota Camry drew up at his home. According to The Guardian, at least a dozen expended cartridges were recovered from the scene. 

The gunfire was heard by several people in the neighbourhood, including the journalist’s landlady, who encountered the gunmen on their way into the house. She described the men as wearing long flowing robes and skullcaps. 

Although police told The Guardian they suspected the attack was an armed robbery, the shooters did not remove anything from the house apart from the victim’s laptop and mobile phone, leading to speculation that the killing may have been linked to his work as a journalist. 

One of Mr. Ohu’s children reported hearing one of the gunmen shout, “The fool is dead” as they left. Neighbours also reported that the men stayed at the scene for some time after the shooting, and fired into the air to keep people away. 

Police have reportedly retrieved the white Toyota used by the attackers in the case. 

Mr. Ohu was still breathing when he was taken to a hospital by neighbours, but hospital authorities reportedly demanded that a police report be filed before he could be treated. He was then rushed to a second hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival. 

According to IPI’s Death Watch, Nigeria has seen at least two targeted killings of journalists since 2006. On December 22, 2006, Godwin Agbroko of This Day was shot dead in his car as he drove home. On 15 October, 2008, Eiphraim Audu, a radio journalist with the Nasarawa State Broadcasting Service, was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen near his home in Lafia, central Nigeria. No items were taken from him or his car, which was parked nearby. 

No arrests have been made in either case. 

“We call upon the Nigerian authorities to thoroughly investigate this brutal murder,” said IPI Director David Dadge. “If, as it appears, Bayo Ohu’s murder was linked to his work as a journalist, the Nigerian government has a responsibility to every journalist in the country to ensure that his murderers do not go free.”


 
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