Thursday, 23 May 2013
State Gov’t Agents Threaten Nigerian Reporter For Filing a Story on Governor's Health
State security agents in Southeast Nigeria attempted to prevent a reporter from filing a story Saturday evening about the status of a governor who hasn't been seen for several months. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today condemned this act of crude censorship.
At about 11:30 p.m. local time Saturday, seven plainclothes men accosted Ozioma Ubabukoh, a reporter with Punch Newspapers, at the entrance of his home in Trans-Ekulu in the southeastern state of Enugu, according to local journalists and news reports. Ubabukoh told CPJ the men identified themselves as agents of Nigeria's State Security Service (SSS) and seized his telephone before ordering him to take them into his home. Two of the men threatened to "rough him up" if he didn't cooperate, Ubabukoh said.
The agents confiscated and searched his laptop and ransacked his home, according to Ubabukoh. They told him their mission was to prevent him filing a story about Enugu state Gov. Sullivan Chime, who has not been seen publicly for three months. Other publications reported Saturday, without citing sources, that Chime had died in India. Ubabukoh had previously written articles on Chime's ill health, including one published Oct. 14 which brought the situation to public attention. State commissioner of information Chuks Ugwoke dismissed that story as an "outright falsehood" and claimed the governor was on vacation, but he has still not been seen publicly.