Prof. Maurice Iwu Fired: Gbenga Aruleba of AIT, Yusuf Ali of The Nation, and two Other Journalists Get Death Threat.

Friday, April 30, 2010

“Gbenga Aruleba, AIT, Yusuf Ali, The Nation, Olusola Fabiyi, The Punch, Chuks Okocha, THISDAY. You all have no hiding place. You must be happy now that Prof. Maurice Iwu has been sacked due to your bad stories and reports. We will deal with you soon. Remember Dele Giwa, Bayo Ohu, and Edo Ubagwu? Good luck".

These were the threat each of these journalists got yesterday from a faceless sender via a sms on GSM number  08063623794.

At the Utako Police Station, where Okocha reported the case, the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, Mr. Ogedengbe, who contacted the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Police Command's Commissioner of Police, CP, Haruna John, directed him to make a statement.

 Okocha, who is  THISDAY Abuja Political Correspondent,  was assured that  the Police will take necessary steps on the report.
In a swift reaction, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Abuja Council, has petitioned the Commissioner of Police FCT over alleged plans by some yet-to-be-identified persons to kill the journalists in the course of their constitutional duties.

In the petition addressed to Haruna by Mr. Jacob Edi, chairman of the council and made available to THISDAY, the union expressed worry that politicians and those it referred to as political actors are getting desperate by the day and in so doing have made journalists targets of assassinations.

According to Edi, "On Thursday at about 1:30pm, I received an SMS from Mr. Chuks Okocha, a member of the NUJ Abuja Council working with ThisDay Newspapers.

"The SMS read: "Gbenga Aruleba (AIT), Yusuf Ali (The Nation), Olusola Fabiyi (PUNCH), Chuks Okocha (THISDAY. U all have no hiding place. U must be happy now dat Prof. Maurice Iwu has been sacked due to ur bad stories and reports. We wil deal wit u soon.  "Remember Dele Giwa, Bayo Ohu and Edo Ubagwu? Gud luck."

"The NUJ Abuja Council is deeply worried by this development, therefore call on your good offices to provide 24hour security for these journalists and others as well as leave nothing to chance in bringing to book all those that are responsible for the senseless killing of journalists in the country.

"By this protest letter, we are handing over these journalists to your protective custody and hope that no harm will come to either them or members of their family."

Meanwhile, Iwu has denied knowledge of the purported threat on the journalists, saying his attention was “drawn to a rather bizarre and childish SMS being sent about threatening some journalists that they will be dealt with for their “bad stories and reports” which purportedly led to the Honourable Chairman of INEC, Prof.Maurice Iwu being directed by the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to go on disengagement leave.”

In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Andy Ezeani,  Iwu said, “the SMS lists the names of some of the journalists purportedly marked to be dealt with. For good measures the names of some slain journalists were dropped.”

He further stated : "This SMS underscores the desperation in the polity by politicians and political actors who have made journalists,  who in the discharge of their legitimate and constitutional duties monitor governance on behalf of the people and hold public officials accountable through their reports, their targets of

Several attempts to the GSM number 08063623794, yielded no result as the service provider kept saying the number was out of service.

Also a statement signed by the Chairman of DAAR Communication, High Chief Aleogho Dokpesi on behalf of the Management of DAAR Communications Plc, operators of African Independent Televison and Raypower F.M. stations, stated that its staff Gebnga Aruleba had received series of threats to his life since Monday April 26, 2010.


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