The Coalition of Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) condemns the targeted harassment faced by Yakubu Mohammed, Editor of WikkiTimes, following his investigative report that exposed terrorism funding and illicit mining activities in Niger State. Equally concerning is the harassment of Mr. Mohammed’s wife, colleagues, and friends.
In his recent investigative report, Mr. Mohammed uncovered the alleged illicit activities of Chinese-allied miners reported to be operating under the control of Eso Terra Investment Limited and Majelo Global Resources Limited. These miners are alleged to have exploited natural resources while reportedly engaging in unethical practices such as bribing the notorious armed bandits faction of Dogo Gide, a kingpin known for terrorizing Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna, and Kebbi states.
Regrettably, Mr Mohammed has been harassed and threatened, along with his wife, other family members and friends, who have also been targeted. The actions of the involved police officers, particularly those who illegally traced Mr Mohammed’s phone contacts and subsequently contacted his wife, colleagues, and friends, pose a threat to the fundamental principles of press freedom and whistle-blower protection.
In Mr. Mohammed’s words: “It’s an abuse of the cyber tracking capabilities of law enforcement and my right to privacy. Without any attempt to reach me, these law enforcement officials started tracing my contacts, which led them to my wife, friend, and colleagues. These are the people I speak with often. Normally, I might have disregarded this, but the officer specifically informed my wife that he knew her location and that there was no need for her to hide anything. This is a clear threat to life.”
Regarding his safety, Mr. Mohammed has communicated with the Niger State Police Command, which, according to him, informed the Bauchi Police Command. He recounted, “The Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Wasiu Abiodun, claimed he had no knowledge of the situation. He was of the opinion that the intelligence unit might be the one looking for me. I called the head of the unit, Shehu Dahiru, who also denied looking for me. Along the way, the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) uncovered that the Criminal Investigation Department was behind all the drama. “
The CWPPF firmly believes that if any party feels defamed by Mr Mohammed’s report, the appropriate course of action should be through the judicial system rather than resorting to abuse of the powers of the police as a means to undermine Mr Mohammed’s security and peace of mind.
Mr. Mohammed has bravely asserted, “It should be known that my life is under threat, and these individuals may go to great lengths to pursue me and my associates.”
The Coalition is also particularly concerned about the unresolved killings of journalists in Nigeria particularly the death of Tordue Salem of the Vanguard newspaper whose body was found after 29 days of being declared missing. It is important that those responsible for these heinous acts are fished out and held accountable for justice to be diligently served.
The CWPPF hereby demands that:
- The Nigerian authorities should immediately launch a transparent and comprehensive investigation into the actions of the police officers who illegally tracked Mr Mohammed’s phone contacts and issued threats to his wife, colleagues and friends.
- The Niger State Police Command and Bauchi State Police Command as well as the Federal Government should guarantee the safety of Mr Mohammed, his family members, colleagues, and associates.
- The Federal government should urgently address the concerns in Mr. Mohammed’s investigative report, specifically pertaining to illegal mining activities and their potential links to terrorism financing.
- The reopening and diligent pursuit of all unsolved cases involving the murders of journalists, with a commitment to bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.
The safety and security of journalists, especially those committed to exposing corruption and injustice, are essential in ensuring the resilience of our democracy.
The CWPPF firmly stands with Mr. Mohammed, his family, colleagues and friends and implores parties involved, particularly law enforcement officials, to respect and protect their fundamental human rights.
Deputy Director, Journalism Programme
About the Coalition
The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) is a group of media and civil society organizations committed to upholding good governance and democracy by protecting the ethos of whistleblowing, freedom of expression and press freedom.
Daily Trust Newspaper
International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)
Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ)
Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID)
African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)
Civic Media Lab
Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC)
International Press Centre (IPC)
International Press Institute (IPI)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ)
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
HEDA Resources Centre.