Nigerian media assaulted by Boko Haram
LAGOS (TMP) -- BELLO UMAR, host of a community radio programme in Hausa language in Maiduguri capital of Borno State, North-East Nigeria, has always gone about his work without any fear of attack by those aggrieved by the issues he focuses on.
However, recurrent attacks by the militant Islamist group, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram in the state and other parts of Northern Nigeria, have forced him and other journalists in the state to be more careful and avoid incurring the wrath of the radical sect.
“Here in Maiduguri, we can no longer report the news freely and objectively, for fear of becoming the next victim of the sect. Freedom of expression has been violated,” he says. “The army is already patrolling the streets, but that’s not enough. We fear for our families. The government must do something to resolve this situation,” the radio journalist adds.
The militant Islamist group whose name in Arabic means "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad", has launched series of bombings that have killed hundreds of persons and destroyed properties worth millions of dollars since it started its war against the government, to back the demand for imposition of Islamic Sharia law.
The northeastern city of Maiduguri is the headquarters of the group opposed to western education. Late Mohammed Yusuf formed the group in 2002, setting up a religious complex which included a mosque and an Islamic school where many poor Muslim families from across the northern parts of the country enrolled their children for Quranic teachings.
Yusuf was killed following clashes between the group and the security. The members regrouped under a new leader in 2010 and have unleashed a reign of terror on the citizens, particularly, Christians in the Northern parts of country.
Until last year, the media was not part of the target group, but journalists have since become victims of its violent activities. On Thursday, April 26, the offices of three newspapers, ThisDay, The Sun and The Moment, in Kaduna and Abuja were attacked by suicide bombers. Six people were killed and several others injured.
Prior to the attacks on the newspaper houses, two journalists – a cameraman with Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Zakariya Yisa, was shot dead in Maiduguri while another reporter with Channels TV, Eneche Akogwu was gunned down on duty.
In Jos, the Plateau state capital where incessant attacks have been on, journalists were targetted on several occasions with the security agents coming to their rescue from protesters, while a photo journalist was injured in the recent bomb attack in Kaduna and Zaria.
“It’s really a tough time to be a journalist in Kano and other parts of the North. I narrowly escaped being killed along with a colleague after we rushed to the scene of a bomb attack here in Kano. It’s risky moving around for assignments these days and we can only try our best within the limits of the limited freedom of movements we have", Kolade Adeyemi, a state correspondent of Nation Newspapers, said.