Nigerian newspaper columnist critical of former president Goodluck Jonthan’s ‘thieving’ officials was last week abducted from her home.
According to media reports, in July this year Donu Kogbara wrote an article calling for employees of Jonathan who were allegedly returning money they had stolen to be ‘rounded up, one by one, and arrested, named, blamed, shamed, and jailed’.
Media reports indicate that unidentified gunmen entered Kogbara’s home in Port Harcourt city, capital of Rivers state, captured the journalist who was with her family, and drove her away in a jeep.
This has propmted the Committee to Protect Journalists to urge the Nigerian authorities to find her, establish the motive for the abduction and apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators.
“We condemn the kidnapping of Vanguard columnist Donu Kogbara and call on Nigerian authorities to launch an immediate and efficient investigation,” said Peter Nkanga, CPJ’s West Africa representative.
Jimitota Onoyume, Vanguard‘s bureau chief in Rivers State, told CPJ that eyewitnesses said two of the assailants entered the house while four others waited outside.
Kogbara has not been seen nor heard from since but Ahmed Muhammad, a police spokesman for Rivers state, told CPJ that police had launched an investigation into her abduction.
Abductions in Nigeria’s southern Niger Delta region are reportedly rife and a score of journalists have been abducted for ransom at different times over the years in Nigeria’s restive southern region.
However, Benga Adefaye, the Vanguard’s Editor-in-Chief told CPJ on Tuesday that the kidnappers had not contacted the newspaper for ransom, while Onoyume said that kidnappers often believe that journalists are affluent because they are at times seen on TV or interacting with politicians and government officials.
According to Adefaye, Kogbara has worked for the independent Vanguard newspaper for around 30 years. He said that Kogbara wrote a column on politics and that he was unaware if she had received threats in connection with her work. Kogbara has also worked for the BBC, Channel 4, and the Sunday Times, among other outlets.
Kogbara’s columns have often been criticized by readers for her strong opinions; in an August 21, 2015, article, Kogbara wrote about a change in rules governing foreign exchange transfers, which she said would negatively impact those with modest incomes.
In her follow-up and last article, she wrote about how she was contacted by ‘a few disgruntled supporters of the previous administration’ who were ‘glad that I was being inconvenienced’.