Before President Jonathan's Men Murder Another Journalist

I thought I would not comment on Nigerian politics for a long time. I have become so thoroughly disillusioned with the astonishingly overwhelming vulgarity, intolerance, and lack of self-reflexivity that have taken over our country's politics in the past few weeks that I'd resolved to block out Nigerian politics from my mind.

But when I read the truly terrible and shuddery column of Hajia Zainab Suleiman-Okino's, the Sun's new Editor-at-Large and Daily Trust's former Managing Editor, where she narrated the death threats she has received from Jonathan's men for daring to opine that by repudiating PDP's regional power-sharing arrangement Jonathan was jeopardizing the political aspirations of politicians from minority ethnic groups who, because of their numerical disadvantage, would always need some sort of positive discrimination to rise to prominent elective positions, I couldn't resist coming out of my self-imposed moratorium on Nigerian political commentary.

I am not concerned here with the merit or demerit of Hajia Zainab's argument; I am only concerned that an opinion as innocuous as warning the president to be mindful of the implications of his overweening ambition for people from minority ethnic groups (Hajia Zainab is Ebira and therefore from a minority group both in Nigeria at large and in her home state of Kogi) is sufficient to earn her death threats. I didn't know that our politics had degenerated to this low-water mark of primitive, murderous intolerance.

In her weekly column called "Rendezvous" in the Sun newspaper, Hajia Zainab wrote: "At exactly 10:08pm on Wednesday, September 8, I received a call from this number, 08037408669, and the man at the other end began to intimidate me. He poured venom on me and added for good measure: ‘Zainab, if you don't stop your Rendezvous column, I will deal with you. I know your office and your house. So, stop that column before it is too late.'"

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Hajia Zainab Suleiman-Okino

Intimidation of journalists for doing nothing more than comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, as Chicago journalist Finley Peter Dunne famously characterized the job of journalists nearly one hundred years ago, is not new, especially in transitional societies such as ours that are still wracked by a "deliberation deficit." But threatening to cold-bloodedly murder a mother of 5 children, who less than a month ago lost her son to brain tumor, for expressing a legitimate, if controversial, opinion is truly perturbing. This should concern not just journalists and law enforcement agents but everyone who has any milk of human compassion running in their veins.

Look, this is no idle, impotent threat. These despicable, homicidal thugs in politics can do anything to silence alternative perspectives. We all know that in the recent past several journalists in Nigeria have been savagely murdered in mysterious circumstances. Bayo Ohu,Guardian's assistant news editor, whom I knew very well when I worked in Katsina, was murdered in the course of his journalistic duty. Godwin Agbroko, the gutsy ThisDay columnist, was also brutally murdered by people who couldn't stand his searing critiques of the politics of Nigeria. Edo Sule Ugbagwu, a journalist with the Nationwho was my senior at Bayero University, Kano, was similarly murdered by hired assassins. The list is much longer.

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Godwin Agbroko

It's entirely imaginable that before these journalists were murdered they had received death threats from their would-be killers. But they probably dismissed the threats as the pitiful wails of people who were merely discomfited by their critical journalistic work. Thankfully, Hajia Zee has chosen to let the world know what Jonathan's minions have in store for her should she continue to express opinions that are critical of their boss' ambitions. Only God knows how many more journalists they have threatened and marked for elimination.

This is unacceptably crude and barbarous. Nobody deserves to die for merely expressing a different opinion. Unfortunately, journalism in Nigeria is becoming progressively more dangerous than it even was during the dark era of viciously absolutist military regimes, prompting the Committee to Protect Journalists to note that, "Reporting in Nigeria has become an increasingly hazardous profession as the list of unsolved journalist murders in the country continues to grow." We mustn't allow Hajia Zainab to be an addition to this growing list.

I have known Hajia Zainab for more than 11 years. She isn't just a former colleague to me; she is also a family friend. I know about her triumphs and her falls, her joys and her sorrows, her struggles, her battles, her dreams. I know her to be an exceptionally kind-hearted woman, an exceedingly hardworking journalist, and an uncommonly caring and nurturant mother and wife who always wants the best for her family. She is one of the most harmless, tolerant, and obliging human beings you can ever wish to meet. And she's still grieving the loss of her son. Fear of the assassin's bullet is the last thing she should be worrying about now.

President Jonathan's men should not only OFFICIALLY dissociate themselves from the death threat to this gentle, benign woman but should implore the security agencies that they control to investigate it. The caller's phone number, 08037408669, is the first lead. Thankfully, a new law requires every mobile phone user in Nigeria to be registered with all identifying information.

If Jonathan's people don't publicly disavow this threat and thoroughly investigate it, the only conclusion we would draw from their insouciance would be that the death threat has presidential imprimatur. In that case, we should all watch out!

Author can be reached at farooqkperogi@gmail.com. He blogs at www.farooqkperogi.blogspot.com



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Re: Before President Jonathan's Men Murder Another Journalist
F.scorpion posted on 09-26-2010, 13:54:26 PM
An aspirant in any field of endeavor that focuses on putting out rumors is sure to be engulfed by the said rumors, innocent or not. The act of repeatedly voicing the rumors, even in self-defense creates a negative association that cannot be broken. I wouldn't expect GJ, or any other political aspirant to respond to fall for such vague allegations.

An anonymous phone call is just that: anonymous. It is NOT a basis for leveling accusations of murder (or attempted murder).

Oga Farook, u be grammarian now. I no suppose dey teach u dis kin tin. Abeg leave roforofo articles for ppl wey sabi am well well.
Re: Before President Jonathan's Men Murder Another Journalist
Ozuo posted on 09-26-2010, 14:03:58 PM
Alarmed by the title, I rushed to this article to see if President Jonathan or his agents had earlier been linked to any murder of a journalist, or whether there were any links to Jonathan or his campaign organisation with the threat to the life of this woman.
But none of the above. And alas, I am disappointed with what a respected writer like Farooq A. kperogi deposited here.

Oops! how can the politics of zoning (mine must continue to lead Nigeria till we are able to find a surrogate from elsewhere) drag a man of Kperogi's standing to this ebb?
Re: Before President Jonathan's Men Murder Another Journalist
Mask posted on 09-26-2010, 14:13:04 PM
Let me tell Ferooq that Nigerians are too intelligent for him to decieve.
If Zainab was threatened from a known GSM phone number that is a simple issue to deal with-simply make a report to appropriate law enforcement agencies and they will take action to protect you as citizen.
Why did Ferooq omit Late Dele Giwa's name from the list murdered journalists? Or was his death of too distant in the past or too insignificant to be recalled?
Why have some jounalists turned themselves into the apostles of the PDP zoning arrangement, especially after the exchange of birthday card and 10million Naira at Minna Hilltop? Why did these apostles of zoning not cry foul when some Northerners contested with Southerners in 2003 PDP Presidential primaries and many delegates from the south voted for them.
Finally,I am waiting for the day Nigerian jounalists will organize memorial service for late Dele Giwa and share the grief of his family the same way they share Babangida's joy at Minna Hilltop.
Re: Before President Jonathan's Men Murder Another Journalist
I Love Nigeria posted on 09-26-2010, 14:33:45 PM
I think we should refrain from flame-throwing with reckless accusations without evidence or factual basis.

This is a delicate period for Nigeria... there is a delicate "fire" dance going on in this political electioneering season.

We must restrain ourselves. We must desist from stoking the fires and ethnic, regional and other negative embers!

These toxic mix could explode in our faces!
Re: Before President Jonathan's Men Murder Another Journalist
SOC Okenwa posted on 09-26-2010, 15:01:14 PM
Farooq,

That is a cheap shot! You misfired! The title of the article is not only misleading but tends to create a false impression about the Jonathan presidency. The last time I checked I never knew that President Jonathan had murdered a journalist before, so that is news to me.

That a single phone caller issued a 'death threat' to your friend of eleven years should not be enough to cry blue murder accusing the President or his men of being behind it; anybody could have been behind it other than the occupants of Aso Rock. Or did the MTN management in Nigeria tell you they discovered the owner of the number resides in Aso Rock or happens to be a Jonathan supporter or an aide or as you put it 'his men'?

I think after reading the article I came to the conclusion that you wrote it to impress Hajia Zainab and convey the message that you still care as a friend while accusing the innocent President and his entourage for doing nothing. I have an axe to grind with this kind of attitude towards our Goodluck. An apology may not be out of order.

SOC
Re: Before President Jonathan's Men Murder Another Journalist
Patcho posted on 09-26-2010, 15:50:09 PM
Farooq:
You have always been writing about Nigeria politics. When you wrote about Dutse, that was politics. When you opined that more Igbo's kill their wifes' in US, you were not preaching religion. Politics was there because your analogy begged for questions like; which Nigeria ethnic group lives most overseas and why?

Your current fire reduces your height, honestly.

Patrick Nwadike
Tokyo Japan
Re: Before President Jonathan's Men Murder Another Journalist
Gerd meuer posted on 09-26-2010, 15:50:51 PM
I like

Iln's comment

and

Basta !

gerd
Re: Before President Jonathan's Men Murder Another Journalist
Picato posted on 09-26-2010, 15:51:40 PM
Am I missing something? How many journalists have Jonathan's men murdered? If none. Please take down this flaming title.
Re: Before President Jonathan's Men Murder Another Journalist
Gerd meuer posted on 09-26-2010, 15:54:33 PM
I had a similar experience with one of your famous co-nationals, but I cannot reveal his name here...

but you can find his name in my book,
which ADMIN may advertise on NVS one of these days...

he may or he may not...

gerd
Re: Before President Jonathan's Men Murder Another Journalist
Aguabata posted on 09-26-2010, 16:08:58 PM
All Jonathan's supporters are out criticizing Farooq unfairly. This article is simple and sensible. A journalist was threatened after criticising Jonathan in an article. Is it outlandish to suspect Jonathan/supporters? Was she lying about the threat? There is nothing unreasonable about this article if the caller made references to the controversial article, IMHO I believe Jonathan is highly unlikely to have anything to do with it directly just as he is unlikely to have anything with the threats being dished out by what is left of the armed resistance in the Niger delta, but this is a matter for the police to investigate(if they can). I had warned kperogi to focus only on articles teaching folks like me english grammar but i guess he values the life of a family friend.

FK please grammar articles only
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