Abuja, Nigeria, July 15, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Nigerian authorities to ensure the safety of a Nigerian journalist who received a death threat from a suspected member of the Islamist militant sect Boko Haram. Adeola Akinremi, the features editor of the independent daily ThisDay in Lagos state, told CPJ about the threat earlier this month.
Akinremi told CPJ he received an email on May 10 from an individual who said he was Abu Musab Abul-Barnawi. In a January 2015 YouTube video, a man identifies himself as Abul-Barnawi and says he is a spokesman for Boko Haram, according to news reports.
CPJ reviewed the email, which threatened Akinremi in connection with an opinion article the journalist wrote on May 8. “You are now a walking dead and a prey to the Lions of Islam from the bullet of a passing car or a nearby rooftop,” part of the email read. “We will get you.”
In the article, called “Why Boko Haram don’t deserve our amnesty,” Akinremi wrote about interviews he conducted with survivors of Boko Haram attacks in parts of northern Nigeria. The journalist called for justice and said he had come “to a conclusion that granting the Boko Haram members any form of amnesty will be injustice to the children orphaned by Boko Haram and the women who have become widows.”
Akinremi told CPJ he had petitioned the police in Lagos state in May to investigate the death threat. He said he and his family fear a potential attack, following recent public encounters in which individuals whom he didn’t know identified him. Akinremi said he now keeps a low profile and has scaled down his writing on issues relating to Boko Haram.
“Ï don’t know what can happen anytime, anywhere,” Akinremi told CPJ. “I have requested a police report on the update of their investigation. But I have not heard anything yet.”
Kenneth Nwosu, a police spokesman in Lagos state, did not immediately respond to CPJ’s calls or a text message inquiring about measures the police have taken to protect Akinremi and his family.
“Nigerian authorities must take this threat against Adeola Akinremi seriously and do everything in their power to ensure his safety,” said Peter Nkanga, CPJ’s West Africa representative. “Journalists should never be threatened with violence for exercising their fundamental right to express their opinions.”
ThisDay has been targeted by Boko Haram in recent years. In April 2012, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for simultaneous bomb attacks on the office of ThisDay in the capital, Abuja, and a building housing the offices of ThisDay, The Sun, and The Moment, in the northern state of Kaduna. A month later, the sect released a video in which members singled out the newspaper as well as other local and international news organizations, and accused them of misrepresenting the group’s activities, encouraging the public to support the government against the group, and attacking Islam in their coverage, news reports said.
At least two journalists have been killed by individuals affiliated with Boko Haram, according to CPJ research. The sect claimed responsibility for the October 2011 murder of Zakariya Isa, a reporter and cameraman for the state-run Nigeria Television Authority, who was shot dead in front of his house in the northern state of Borno, according to news reports. Journalists told CPJ that Boko Haram perceived cameramen and photographers, particularly those working for state media, as potential spies.
In January 2012, Enenche Akogwu, a reporter for the independent Channels Television, was covering bomb blasts in the northern state of Kano when he was shot dead. News reports said the gunmen were suspected to be members of Boko Haram.
- For data and analysis on Nigeria, visit CPJ’s Nigeria page.