Nigeria Alert: Commissioner of Police refuses to protect threatened journalist

Gabriel Achong, the Commissioner of Police of Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria, told Etim Ekpimah, a journalist with privately-owned PUNCH newspaper that the police would not offer him protection.

The MFWA’s correspondent in Nigeria reported that Ekpimah received a text message from an anonymous person on March 15, 2015, which said “Hi Etim. One guy, Martin Akpan, called me today to complain about your story in Sunday PUNCH. He said they will make you leave Akwa Ibom by force. His number is 08163192421.”

According to the MFWA’s correspondent, the threat on the journalist’s life is a result of his March 15 story, “Akwa Ibom: State where commissioners, others, kneel for Akpabio’s wife.”

Ekpimah reported the threatening text messages to Achong; however, he accused Ekpimah of collecting bribes from opposition parties to write the story.

“This is none of your business. I do not care about what happens to you. If you have collected money from those who asked you to write the story, why did you not tell them that you cannot write?” Achong is reported to have said.

Achong also told Ekpimah, You are on your own. I do not have any business protecting you. This is how you people go about causing troubles. You have brought serious embarrassment to the man (Akwa Ibom StateCommissioner for Works, Don Etim) and his family. If you want to talk with your madam in your office, do you stand to talk with her? Anybody can kneel down for another as a sign of respect.”

In his article, Ekpimah said some state officials, including the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Works, Don Etim, knelt to talk to the wife of the State Governor Godswill Akpabio, Ekaette Umona Akpabio. The article also described other instances where state officials have knelt before the governor’s wife.

The MFWA condemns the inaction by the State Commissioner of the Police Force in Akwa Ibom State. As the State Commissioner, it is Achong’s duty to protect all citizens, particularly journalists who are undertaking their constitutionally protected work. It is therefore regrettable that Achong is treating a journalist’s safety with such contempt. We urge the Inspector General of Police in Nigeria, Suleiman Abba, to call Achong to order and ensure that he protects all persons in potential danger.

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