Nigerian Newspaper Offices Burned Down By Fundamentalists Says RSF

By Ruth Nabakwe
Paris, France

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

November 22, 2002

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has urged Nigerian authorities to protect Press Freedom in the North of the country following the burning down of parts of a Nigerian daily newspaper, This Day, in Kaduna by Islamic Fundamentalists.

"It is getting harder and harder for journalists to do their job in the region," complained RSF secretary general Robert Menard in a letter addressed to Kaduna state governor Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi.

RSF urged the local authorities to take clear steps that guaranteed press freedom in view of the physical attacks and threats on journalists by Islamic fundamentalists or by police.

According to RSF, several hundred muslims arrived in a bus at the Lagos-based "This Day" newspaper offices in Kaduna on 20 November and burned down parts of the building.

Earlier in the day angry youths burned down all the copies of the paper at a warehouse due to anger at an article carried by the paper on 16 November saying that prophet Mohammed "would probably have chosen a wife" from among the Miss World candidates scheduled to appear at a contest in Nigeria on 7 December.

Several religious groups had strongly protested against the article and called for the paper to be punished.

The Supreme Council for Sharia Implementation in Nigeria called for advertising boycott on the paper charging that the paper had "declared total war on Islam" and that, "Muslims should declare the same on the paper."

On the eve of the fire in kaduna, RSF said that the paper's management had printed an apology to muslims and said it had been wrong to publish the article. Another newspaper, The "Daily Trust" reported that federal security officials had summoned the managing editor of "This Day", Nduka Obaigbena, for questioning.

© The Perspective
P.O. Box 450493
Atlanta, GA 31145