Boko Haram targets journalists in Nigeria | Africa | DW | 27.04.2012
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Africa

Boko Haram targets journalists in Nigeria

Terrorist group Boko Haram has accepted responsibility for recent attacks on media houses in Nigeria. The group says it's being treated badly by the nation's journalists.

In an effort to justify its attacks on a number of newspaper offices in Nigeria, Boko Haram has accused the nation's media of unfair reporting.

In particular, the group said that the "Thisday" newspaper had reported that the spokesman for the sect, Abdul Qaqa, had been arrested by security operatives when this was not the case. A statement from Boko Haram also claimed that media reports were generally tilted in favor of the military, and that journalists erroneously reported that the sect planned to kill President Goodluck Jonathan.

The newspapers attacked on Thursday were "Thisday" in Abuja and Kaduna, as well as "The Moment," "The Sun" and "Tribune".

Journalists cautious

The National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Mohammed Gabar, said more needs to be done to protect journalists.

"It's not just the safety of journalists that we need to worry about, it's ordinary Nigerians as well," Gabar told DW. "The government needs to be more pro-active."

Security officials gather at the site of a bomb blast at 'This Day' Newspaper office in Abuja, Nigeria, 26 April 2012.

The multiple attacks across the country killed at least seven people and injured many more

Boko Haram has targeted individual journalists in the past, but this was the first time that media houses were directly attacked. Gabar admitted that the behavior of journalists also needs to be examined, "The issue of ethics and professionalism can be looked into. In the situations where we have erred, we need to rectify our reporting."

Before Thursday's attacks Boko Haram had said that it would strike news organizations and also warned correspondents working for foreign media in Nigeria. "Thisday" was one of the news organizations Boko Haram specifically warned.

The newspaper's CEO, Segun Adeniyi, said that security precautions had been taken.

"The front gate was locked and we put a vehicle there," Adeniyi said. "The gate at the back too, was locked and security men were there."

But when the suicide bombers showed up, the gates were opened for them. "We can't ask the security men why they did it, because they are now dead," Adeniyi said.

Government condemnation

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan in Berlin, April 19, 2012.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was in Germany recently to talk trade, but also security

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the attacks, calling them criminal. Nevertheless, Nigerian Information Minister Labaran Maku was critical of the way in which some parts of the media had dealt with Boko Haram in the past.

"We are making gangsters look like they are heroes. The media must work to expose and to undermine terror, not to report on them as if they are heroes," Maku said.

During his visit to Germany last week, President Jonathan told DW he believed the threat of Boko Haram was "exaggerated."

Author: Ben Shemang, Abuja / al
Editor. Susan Houlton / sms

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