26 October 2011

TV journalist gunned down by notorious Islamic sect

A journalist was gunned down in front of his house by militants from the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram, report Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

A gunman travelling in a car with two others shot Alhaji Zakariya Isa at close range with a Kalashnikov rifle in Maiduguri, Borno in Northeastern Nigeria on 22 October, report the IFEX members. According to MRA and CPJ, the assailants specifically asked for Isa, who is a reporter and cameraman with Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).

MRA says the militant group Boko Haram has threatened a number of journalists for actions deemed offensive to the group, such as quoting people who claim to be part of the sect but are not official members. RSF reports that some journalists covering the Boko Haram movement, which wants to establish Sharia law in northern Nigeria, have also been harassed by security officials looking for information.

Agence France Press (AFP) reports that Boko Haram justified the brutal attack in an emailed statement by saying the journalist was giving information about the group's activities to security agencies. According to AFP, there is no evidence suggesting Zakariya, a father of two, was an informant, and Nigerian authorities also deny this fact.

The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) warns that other journalists could also be brutally murdered if the government doesn't put in place concrete measures to protect journalists. CPJ also condemns the failure of Nigerian officials to properly investigate and bring accountability in past murders of journalists and calls on authorities to counter this trend.

The news manager for the local NTA bureau told CPJ that three other journalists fled the area after receiving threatening phone calls from Boko Haram members. Boko Haram, which translates to "western education is forbidden," has also claimed responsibility for numerous fatal shootings and bombings in Nigeria, including the August suicide bombing at the United Nations headquarters in Abuja that killed 23 people.

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