The Coalition of Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has condemned the targeted harassment of Yakubu Mohammed, Editor of Wikki Times.
This came in the wake of the editor’s investigative report which exposed terrorism funding and illicit mining activities in Niger State.
The CWPPF’s statement, signed by Busola Ajibola, Deputy Director, Journalism Programme, expressed profound concerns, not only for Mohammed, but also for his family, colleagues and friends who have fallen victim to this orchestrated campaign of intimidation.
In the report, Mohammed had delved into the nefarious activities of alleged China-backed miners operating under the banners of Eso Terra Investment Limited and Majelo Global Resources Limited.
These operators are accused of exploiting natural resources and also paying off suspected armed bandits allegedly led by one Dogo-Gide – a suspected kingpin accused of terrorizing states including Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna and Keffi.
Mohammed and other journalists have been facing relentless harassment and threats, the statement said.
It was also alleged that some police officers unlawfully traced the editor’s contacts, reached out to his wife, colleagues, and friends. “Such actions pose a grave threat to the sacrosanct principles of press freedom and whistleblower protect,” the CWPPF statement reads.
In response, Mohammed said: “It’s an abuse of cyber tracking capabilities wielded by law enforcement and a blatant invasion of my rights to privacy. Without attempting to contact me directly, these law enforcement officials-initiated contact with my wife, friend and colleagues – people I frequently communicate with.
“Ordinarily, I might have brushed this aside, but the officer explicitly informed my wife that he knew her whereabouts and insinuated that she had nothing to hide. This is an unmistakable threat to our lives.”
Concerning his safety, Mohammed said he had communicated with the Niger State Police Command, which had also informed the Bauchi Police Command.
“The Public Relations Officer (PRO), Wasiu Abiodun, claimed he had no knowledge of the situation. He suggested that the intelligence unit might be responsible. I reached out to the unit’s head, Shehu Dahiru, who also denied any involvement. Along the way, the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) unearthed the Criminal Investigation Department was behind the entire charade,” Mohammed added.
The CWPPF has since made the following demands:
1. Nigerian authorities must promptly initiate a transparent and comprehensive investigation into the actions of police officers who illegally tracked Mohammed’s phone contacts and issued threats to his wife, colleagues and friends.
2. The Niger and Bauch States’ Police Commands, and the Federal Government must guarantee the safety of Wikkitimes editor, Mohammed, his family members, colleagues and associates.
3. The FG must urgently address the concerns raised in Mohammed’s investigative report, particularly regarding illegal mining activities and their potential links to terrorism financing.
4. All unresolved cases involving the murders of journalists must be reopened and diligently pursued, with a steadfast commitment to bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.