Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Courageous Reporter Saxone Akhaine

(MRA/IFEX) - On 20 December 2009, Mr. Saxone Akhaine, a correspondent for the Lagos-based daily newspaper "The Guardian", reported that he had received a death threat via a SMS text message. The threat was linked to his reporting in the newspaper.

Mr. Akhaine, who is based in Kaduna in northern Nigeria, said the text message, which came from a cell phone with the number 08132283200 at 8:46 a.m., read: "If you write rubbish again in this Kaduna you will be missing for ever."

He said he called the telephone number and someone who referred to himselfas the driver for Mr. Umar Sani, the director general of media and publicity for the Kaduna state governor, answered the call and said: "Yes, my Oga (boss) is not around now; he left his phone in the car. But I will deliver your message and he will call you back."

Not satisfied with the response, Mr. Akhaine said he called Sani on his official phone number to complain about the text message. He said Sani denied ownership of the mobile phone number used to send the death threat.

Mr. Akhaine added, however, that Sani remarked: "I must say that some of my boys are not happy with some of your recent reports. I will find out if any of them did send the text message. Certainly I don't have such a phone number among my phone numbers."

"By now you should be used to such things. How many years have you been on he job? Ignore the text. I will personally investigate the source of the text message," Sani added.

On 20 September, Mr. Akhaine's colleague, Mr. Bayo Ohu, who was "The Guardian"'s news editor, was murdered in his home in Lagos. His killers have not yet been found.

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