In Nigeria, a veteran award-winning journalist is murdered

New York, December 26, 2006-The Committee to Protect Journalists mourns the December 22 killing of veteran Nigerian journalist Godwin Agbroko in the commercial city of Lagos. Agbroko, editorial board chairman of the private daily ThisDay, was found shot to death in his car, according to local and international media reports. Three police officers and two others were also found dead at the scene.

The circumstances of the killing remained unclear. Several initial reports said Agbroko was slain when he encountered the scene of a robbery, but those reports offered few other details. Local journalists told CPJ that Agbroko was killed by a single shot to the neck, and that his valuables were untouched. A police investigation is under way.

“The murder of Godwin Agbroko casts a pall over independent journalists in Nigeria,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “It is imperative that the authorities conduct a thorough and transparent investigation to bring his killers to justice.”

Agbroko, 53, a highly regarded journalist, was jailed for his work for several months in 1996, when the country was ruled by military dictator Sani Abacha. In 1997, PEN American Center awarded him its prestigious Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.

Newspaper offices and journalists have been targeted by deadly robberies in recent weeks, according to local media reports. On Monday, armed robbers invaded the office of the Vanguard newspaper in Onitsha state and killed a circulation assistant. Omololu Falobi, a founding member of Journalists against AIDS, died in October from injuries sustained in an armed robbery in Lagos.