Lagos — The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an attack on a Nigerian journalist on Saturday and calls on authorities to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Three unidentified men attacked Abubakar Sadiq Isah, a reporter for the Daily Trust, outside the town hall in Kwali, a local government area in Abuja, the capital, Isah told CPJ. The journalist said he was covering a public hearing when men began to beat him on his face, chest, and back. Isah said the attack occurred in front of police, who finally intervened and took him to the police station. He said his attackers were not arrested and that he filed a complaint with Umar Ozigi, the police chief. He reported no serious injuries from the attack.
Isah told CPJ he believed the attack was linked to an October 23 phone call he had received from Joseph K. Shazin, chairman of the Kwali area council, in which the official said that the next time Isah returned to Kwali, he would be attacked. The call came after Isah had written an article, called "Father's car crushes son at a political rally" and published in the Daily Trust the same day, about a Kwali council car assigned to another local official that had accidentally killed the official's son during a rally.
In response to CPJ's questions about the attack and the threats, Shazin called Isah a "junk journalist" in connection with the "nonsense he wrote." He did not comment further.
Isah told CPJ that when he arrived at the police station on November 14 for joint questioning with Shazin, the chairman was not present, and that the police chief refused to say when Shazin would be questioned. Ozigi told CPJ he would be calling Isah the following week to set a date for questioning.
Ozigi denied to CPJ any knowledge of the threats made against Isah, but the journalist told CPJ that he had personally reported the threats to Ozigi.
"We are alarmed that Abubakar Sadiq Isah was attacked, but police don't seem to want to do anything about it," said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita from New York. "We call on authorities to investigate the threats made against Isah and the brazen attack that was conducted right in front of police officers. Police should ensure the perpetrators of these crimes are arrested."
Isah told CPJ he has been threatened before. In October 2011, assailants seized his reporting equipment while he was photographing unfinished buildings in Abaji, another area council in Abuja, according to new reports. His equipment was never returned. Isah said he was told at the time to leave Abaji and that he would be harmed if he published anything in connection with the buildings.