(The Nation)
(The Nation)

Three journalists killed in Nigeria

New York, April 26, 2010—Three Nigerian journalists were killed in two separate incidents over the weekend. Muslim rioters killed two reporters working with a local Christian newspaper on Saturday, according to local journalists and news reports. Also on Saturday, court reporter Edo Sule Ugbagwu, at left, from the private daily The Nation was shot dead at his home by two gunmen, according to local journalists.

“Reporting in Nigeria has become an increasingly hazardous profession as the list of unsolved journalist murders in the country continues to grow,” said CPJ’s Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. “CPJ urges local authorities to double their efforts and bring the perpetrators of these murders to justice.”

In the city of Jos in the restive central Plateau state, a mob of Muslim rioters reacting to the discovery of an allegedly Muslim corpse found near a church killed Deputy Editor Nathan S. Dabak, 36, and reporter Sunday Gyang Bwede, 39, of Church of Christ in Nigeria-owned monthly The Light Bearer, according to local news reports. Journalists have been targeted amid recent deadly outbreaks of sectarian violence in the area.

The journalists were riding a motorcycle on their way interview a local politician, Member of Parliament Bitrus Kaze, when they were stabbed by rioters on Saturday morning, their editor-in-chief, Gyarta Pofi, told CPJ. The Associated Press reported that they were covering the unrest. The two men were among five people killed in the riots, according to local journalists, and CPJ was unable to determine immediately whether they were specifically targeted.

Dabak and Bwede began working with The Light Bearer May 2009, according to Pofi. Bwede was survived by a wife and a son, she said.

In the shooting incident, Ugbagwu’s brother, Okhlaho Ugbagwu, told reporters that two armed gunmen entered their house in a Lagos suburb demanding money. The gunmen shot Ugbagwu twice and then drove off in a red Honda without taking anything, his brother told local journalists.

Lagos State Police spokesman Frank Mba told reporters that the police commissioner was conducting a “wholesale investigation” into the shooting. Mba added that it was too early to determine whether the case was an assassination or a violent robbery. The Nations Deputy Editor Lawal Ogienagbon said Ugbagwu had not been working on any sensitive stories leading up to his death. The last assignment he had covered was a press conference organized by the Nigerian Bar Association, colleagues told CPJ. Ugbagwu had previously worked for the now defunct Comet newspaper and joined The Nation in July 2006.

Ubabgwu, 42, was the third journalist killed in the Lagos suburbs in less than two years. A member of This Day’s editorial board, Paul Abayomi Ogundeji, was shot dead in August 2008 and political editor Bayo Ohu was shot at his home in September 2009. No one has yet been convicted of either crime.