Friday, 5 September 2008

Murder Of Nigerian Journalist; Group Accuse Police Of Complicity

The recent murder of a Nigerian journalist, Mr. Abayomi Ogundeji, has continued to generate heated arguments between the Police, the Nigerian Union of Journalists(NUJ) and civil liberties groups. Late Mr. Ogundeji, whose death, the Police blamed on armed robbery has since been buried in Lagos. In a recent press release signed by the chairman of Lagos state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists and some civil society activists, the group accused the police of complicity in the murder. The press release ran thus:

"We the undersigned are appalled at the reaction of the Nigerian Police Force to the NUJ led protest march to demand for a thorough investigation of the assassination of Mr Abayomi Ogundeji (a member of Thisday Newspapers editorial board).
We noted that the Nigerian Police Force led by the Lagos state Commissioner, Mr Marvel Akpoyibo, was quick to attribute his death to armed robbery, just like many other Nigerians extra-judicially killed at or near police checkpoints all over Nigeria.
The Lagos State Police Commissioner arranged an emergency press conference to end speculations that the police were involved or knew more than it was willing to admit about the death of our friend, Mr. Abayomi Ogundeji.
It is significant to note that, Mr Akpoyibo refused to allow the man that was alleged to have witnessed the murder to be thoroughly questioned or have his picture taken by the media, at the press conference.
Nigerians now know better. The autopsy report clearly indicated that Mr Ogundeji was shot from the back contrary to the account of the Nigerian Police Force.
Hence, we hold the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr Marvel Akpoyibo, responsible for terminating the NUJ protest march and condemn his threat and inability to assure the security of a peaceful protest march to the police command.
We wish to remind Akpoyibo that we are now in a democracy and Nigerians no longer require police permit to embark on peaceful activities.
It is obvious to us that the conduct of the Police Commissioner Mr Marvel Akpoyibo in stopping the protest march also strengthens the suspicion that the Lagos State Police Command is a prime suspect, denting the image of the Nigerian Police Force further.
We wish to warn that there is a growing perception that the Nigerian Police officers are largely responsible for the death of innocent Nigerians, often at checkpoints and incapable of preventing or detecting crimes, particularly when officers are suspected to be involved.
Hence, since men of the Lagos State command may be involved in the murder of Mr Ogundeji, and given the reprehensible conduct of Mr Akpoyibo so far, we demand that the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mike Okiro, should take-over the investigation of Mr Ogundeji’s death. This to some extent may allay our fears of Police cover-up.
We demand that the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Marvel Akpoyibo, should be reprimanded for terminating the NUJ protest march.
We call on LASCO to join forces with Lagos NUJ to demand for justice for Mr Abayomi Ogundeji. Our friend must not be another figure in the statistics of extra-judicial killing".

1. Wahab Oba, Chairman – Lagos State Council, Nigerian Union of Journalists (LagosNUJ)
2. Dr Sylvester Odion-Akhaine, Executive Director – Centre for Constitutionalism and Demilitarisation (CENCOD)
3. Denja Yaqub, Assistant Secretary-Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)
4. Biodun Sowunmi, Executive Director – Africa Centre for Labour Research and Emancipation (ACLRE)
5. Dr Adewale Balogun, Executive Director – Centre for Constitutional Governance (CCG)
6. Tony Iyare, Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER)
7. Lanre Arogundade, Co-ordinator – International Press Centre (IPC)
8. Comrade Biodun Aremu, Convener – United Action For Democracy (UAD)
9. Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike, Ag. Executive Director – Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO)
10. Sina Loremikan, Southwest Co-ordinator – Zero Corruption Coalition
11. Luke Aghanenu, President – National Association of Democratic Lawyers
12. Olasupo Ojo, President – Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR)

In a separate development, the MOVEMENT FOR THE EMANCIPATION OF NIGER DELTA(MEND), in an online press release, dissociated itself from a group which claimed to be an affiliate of the Niger Delta main militant group. The MEND press release is here reproduced below:

"The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) wishes to dissociate itself from the group, Penninton Dodo Ramos Salvation Front (PENDORA) which claims to be affiliated to MEND.
The group, in a statement signed by one Perekunakuna Braun gave oil companies an ultimatum to accede to its demand of providing some benefits to some oil bearing communities in Bayelsa, failure to which they threatened to destroy oil facilities.
Because the motive for the threat is monetary and we are a regional group whose concerns are for the entire Niger Delta, MEND will not be a part of it".
(Jomo Gbomo).