Media Rights Agenda (MRA) on Wednesday called on the Federal Government to investigate the alleged threat to the life of “Daily Nigeria” publisher, Jaafar Jaafar, who has gone into hiding, and ensure his safety, stressing that the Government has an obligation to protect members of the media, including when their lives, safety or security are threatened by government officials.
Jaafar has come under threat from Kano State governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Ganduje since the journalist published video clips of the governor in October 2018, showing him allegedly collecting bundles of dollars in bribe from a contractor.
In an interview with the BBC Hausa Service on March 19, 2021, Governor Ganduje said there were ongoing plans to deal with those who released the videos, following which Jaafar wrote a petition to the then Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, over the renewed threats to his life.
On April 14, 2021, Jaafar received an invitation from the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Monitoring Unit to report for questioning on charges of criminal libel based on an allegation that he was inciting violence and spreading injurious falsehood against the Inspector General of Police.
Unknown persons have reportedly been on the trail of the journalist for some time and fearing for his life, Mr. Jaafar has had to go into hiding. Reports said unidentified persons who are likely to be “hit men”, have been stalking him both at his Abuja and Kano residences.
MRA’s Communications Officer, Idowu Adewale, said in a statement issued in Lagos that: “As a journalist, Mr. Jaafar, has a constitutional right and duty to hold government and its officials accountable. Since he is a Nigerian citizen and a journalist, the police have a duty on both counts to protect him from any form of harassment or threat as well as any danger on his life or the lives of members of his family and any attempt to prevent him from performing his professional duties.”
He argued that there is no way Jaafar can get or expect any fair treatment in the hands of the Police who have levelled spurious charges of inciting violence and spreading injurious falsehood against their boss, the Inspector General of Police, against him and are at the same time purporting to conduct an investigation into their own accusations against him, adding that “such a process makes an outrageous mockery of our system of justice”.
Adewale said MRA shared Jaafar’s concerns that the allegations and the invitation based on them for him to report to the Police for questioning are merely an attempt to lure him into their custody so that they can do him harm.
He therefore, called on the government to ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted into the threats to Mr. Jaafar’s life with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice and ensuring that no harm comes to him as the Federal Government of Nigeria would be liable under international law for the actions of the Police and any State government that violate the country’s treaty obligations.
Adewale urged the government to live up to its obligation to ensure the safety of Mr. Jaafar and other media practitioners, including by preventing attacks on them whenever possible and ensuring that all attacks or threats are investigated and that the perpetrators of any such attack are prosecuted and punished.