Nigerian journalist threatened for alleging rape at a boys’ school

Abuja, Nigeria, October 30, 2015–A radio journalist told the Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday that he had been threatened by three men after he reported on the alleged rape of students in a boys’ school in Nigeria’s northern city of Kano.

“The threat against Nasir Salisu Zango is a threat to the public’s right to know what is happening in society,” said Peter Nkanga, CPJ’s West Africa representative. “CPJ calls on Nigerian authorities to ensure Zango’s safety and apprehend the individuals behind the threats.”

Nasir Salisu Zango, a reporter for the privately owned station Freedom Radio and Hausa correspondent for the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, told CPJ that three men dressed in civilian clothes who claimed to be police officers came to his house early Thursday morning and asked him to stop reporting on the alleged rape of school boys in Hassan Ibrahim Gwarzo Secondary School. The men said he would face consequences if he did not stop, but did not elaborate.

Magaji Musa Majia, police spokesman in Kano State, told CPJ he was not aware of the allegation that police were involved in the threats against Zango because no official complaint on the case had been filed to the police.

On Wednesday night and again early Thursday morning, Freedom Radio broadcast a Hausa-language program, called “Inda Ranka” which included an interview Zango conducted with a 13-year-old boy who had been admitted to a hospital after allegedly being raped. The boy said that at night unknown male individuals forcefully and repeatedly had sex with new students in the school. Zango also interviewed the boy’s mother, who said that school authorities were preventing several other boys from seeking medical attention outside the school because they were trying to conceal the crime.

The Kano State government ordered the school to be closed today and began conducting an investigation into the allegations, according to news reports.

Mallam Bashir, the school’s principal, told CPJ he was aware of Zango’s report about the school and that police were investigating. Ibrahim Ayagi, the school’s proprietor, denied to CPJ that students were sexually abused or prevented from seeking medical attention. He said he would seek legal action against the radio station for spreading falsehood about the school

Local journalists told CPJ that Zango’s life could be in danger for reporting on the alleged rapes, the topic of which was taboo. Zango told CPJ he was not intimidated by the threats and that he was doing a follow-up to his first report.

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