Nigeria journalist threatened amid sect violence

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 11:10

Lagos: A journalist in Nigeria said
on Wednesday he`s been threatened and followed in recent days after
being mentioned as a possible intermediary in potential peace
talks with a radical Islamist sect.

Freelance journalist Ahmad Salkida said he fears he will
be targeted over his previous articles and contacts with Boko
Haram, a sect waging an increasingly bloody conflict with
Nigeria`s weak central government.

His fears come as another man mentioned as a possible
go-between for indirect talks has said he`s pulled out over
details of the negotiations being published by local
newspapers.

Salkida has covered the Boko Haram movement since 2006,
including the sect`s violent rioting and a later security
crackdown in 2009 that saw 700 people killed. Security forces
detained Salkida for six days after the rioting, later
releasing him without charges.

In recent days, he said he`s noticed being followed while
he drives. He also said he received threatening telephone
calls, including one in which a man told him that "me and Boko
Haram are not supposed to exist."

Salkida said he believes the threats come from Nigeria`s
security agencies, which have suffered numerous casualties in
recent Boko Haram attacks and remain angry about the killings.

The sect is blamed for killing more than 360 people this
year alone, according to an Associated Press count. Those
killed include Christian and Muslims, as well as police
officers and soldiers.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based
advocacy group, has said it is concerned about Salkida`s
safety.

"Nigerian authorities must take these threats seriously
and we hold the government responsible for Salkida`s
well-being," Mohamed Keita, the committee`s Africa Advocacy
Coordinator, said in a statement yesterday.

Nigeria came out of a long period of military rule in 1999
and has an unbridled free press, but journalists are often
harassed by police and the State Security Service, the
nation`s secret police. Local journalists also have been
attacked and killed in the oil-rich nation over their
reporting in the past. This year alone, two journalists in
Nigeria were killed.

In Salkida`s case, however, the threats he faces likely
are a result of the government`s push to find intermediaries
to possibly start indirect talks with Boko Haram.

Nigeria has reached out before, but to individuals who
exaggerated their influence with a group whose
command-and-control structure remains a mystery as it has
splintered.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 11:04

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