Another Nigerian reporter killed while covering protest, second in six months

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Nigerian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the death of Alex Ogbu, a reporter for the RegentAfrica Times magazine and website, while he was covering a protest by the Islamic Movement in Nigerian capital, Abuja, on 21 January.

The second journalist to be killed at a demonstration in the past six months, Ogbu was found dead with an injury to the back of his head. The police had been firing teargas and live rounds to disperse the protesters, Nigerian media outlets quoted witnesses as saying.

The police reported in a statement the same day that a person had been found dead during the protest but did not release the identity of the victim. After the journalist's identity was revealed, the police said he died when his head struck the ground as he fell.This is contradicted by Nigerian press reports. A witness told The Cable newspaper that the police fired live rounds during the protest. The Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) also called on the police authorities to “ensure that the officers involved in this killing face the full weight of the law.”

According to the information obtained by RSF, a forensic doctor has confirmed to a member of Ogbu’s family that he was killed by a gunshot. A police source said an investigation was under way to identify the officer responsible. The findings of the autopsy have not yet been disclosed. In a letter to the Inspector general of police read by RSF, the family's lawyers have pointed out several irregularities in the ongoing investigation, claiming that the "embalmment" took place before any member of the family could see the body of the deceased.

“This is the second time in six months that a journalist has been killed while covering these demonstrations,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “There is reason to be concerned about the lack of transparency so far affecting this investigation. We call on the authorities to do whatever is necessary to shed light on the circumstances leading to this journalist’s death.”

A young Channels TV journalist, Precious Owolabi, was killed in similar circumstances on 22 July 2019. He was hit by a bullet while covering an Islamic Movement in Nigeria protest in Abuja and died later in hospital. According to the NUJ, no one has been arrested for his murder.

Nigeria is ranked 120th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 30.01.2020