Coalition Condemns Threats Against Nigeria’s WikkiTimes Editor, Wife, Associates For Exposing Terrorism Funding, Illegal Mining

The Coalition of Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has condemned “the targeted harassment faced by Yakubu Mohammed, Editor of WikkiTimes, following his investigative report that exposed terrorism funding and illicit mining activities in Niger State.”

In a statement dated October 4 and signed by its Deputy Director, Journalism Programme, Busola Ajibola, CWPPF urged the government to “immediately launch a transparent and comprehensive investigation into the actions of the police officers who illegally tracked Mr Mohammed’s phone contacts and issued threats to his wife, colleagues and friends.”

According to WikkiTimes, Mohammed and his associates have been targeted by some police officers following his investigation that exposed illegal mining and terrorism funding in Niger State.

In the investigative report, Mohammed uncovered how Chinese-allied miners operating under the licenses of Eso Terra Investment Limited and Majelo Global Resources Limited, bribed the terror group of Dogo Gide to access the mining sites in the area.

Following the report, the police tracked Mohammed’s contacts and started issuing threats to them. The CWPPF noted that the coordinated threats are against “the fundamental principles of press freedom and whistle-blower protection.”

“It’s an abuse of the cyber tracking capabilities of law enforcement and my right to privacy. Without any attempt to reach me, these law enforcement officials started tracing my contacts, which led them to my wife, friend, and colleagues,” Mohammed told CWPPF.

“These are the people I speak with often. Normally, I might have disregarded this, but the officer specifically informed my wife that he knew her location and that there was no need for her to hide anything. This is a clear threat to life.”

The journalist subsequently contacted Wasiu Abiodun, spokesman for Niger Police Command and the Head of the Intelligence Unit, Shehu Dahiru. But both of them claimed they didn’t know about any search warrant against him.

“The Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Wasiu Abiodun, claimed he had no knowledge of the situation. He was of the opinion that the intelligence unit might be the one looking for me. I called the head of the unit, Shehu Dahiru, who also denied looking for me. Along the way, the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) uncovered that the Criminal Investigation Department was behind all the drama,” said Mohammed.

“It should be known that my life is under threat, and these individuals may go to great lengths to pursue me and my associates,” he added.

The CWPPF opines that any party that feels defamed by Mohammed’s report should go to court “rather than resorting to abuse of the powers of the police as a means to undermine Mr Mohammed’s security and peace of mind.”

“The Niger State Police Command and Bauchi State Police Command as well as the Federal Government should guarantee the safety of Mr Mohammed, his family members, colleagues and associates,” the coalition advised.

“The Federal government should urgently address the concerns in Mr Mohammed’s investigative report, specifically pertaining to illegal mining activities and their potential links to terrorism financing,” it added.

“The reopening and diligent pursuit of all unsolved cases involving the murders of journalists, with a commitment to bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.”

The coalition also lamented the “unresolved killings of journalists in Nigeria particularly the death of Tordue Salem of the Vanguard newspaper whose body was found after 29 days of being declared missing. It is important that those responsible for these heinous acts are fished out and held accountable for justice to be diligently served.

“The safety and security of journalists, especially those committed to exposing corruption and injustice, are essential in ensuring the resilience of our democracy.”