Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport
Airport staffers are seen working at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, Nigeria, on July 6, 2020. On May 15, 2022, the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, a privately owned Nigerian investigative news website, received the first of a series of threatening messages from an unidentified WhatsApp account whose user profile suggested they were a travel agent. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Nigeria’s Foundation for Investigative Journalism receives threatening messages

On May 15 and June 3, 2022, the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), a privately owned Nigerian investigative news website, received threatening messages to the outlet’s official WhatsApp contact number from an unknown number with an Italian country code, according to a June 3 FIJ report and Damilola Ayeni, an editor with the outlet, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app.

In one May 15 message, which CPJ reviewed, the sender wrote, “I will do whatever it takes to look for you in this Nigeria and cut off your head from your body.” That was followed with messages saying, “Next time you will know how to mind your business,” and, “It is a promise.”

On June 3, the same WhatsApp user suggested their target was a female journalist, calling her a “useless woman.”

According to the FIJ report, the news outlet sent a WhatsApp message from a separate number to the unknown sender, whose WhatsApp profile suggested that they were a travel agent. The sender requested that FIJ pay 250,000 naira (US$602) for a trip from Cyprus to the United Kingdom, according to the same report. When FIJ requested an invoice for the proposed payment, the sender ended the conversation and blocked the FIJ number, the report said.

The threats came less than a month after FIJ published an April 18 report accusing a Belarus-based Nigerian travel agent of fraud.

Separately, on May 6, FIJ published a report accusing a traditional herbal doctor of fraud. Following that report, the doctor messaged FIJ expressing displeasure over the report and referred to the author as a “foolish woman,” Ayeni told CPJ.

Ayeni told CPJ that FIJ had not reported the threats to police.