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Suspected Assassins Murder Journalist                      

 

Mr. Paul Abayomi Ogundeji, a member of the editorial board of the Lagos-based private daily, Thisday newspaper was on August 17, 2008, at about 10.30pm local time, shot dead in Dopemu, a suburb of Lagos metropolis by unidentified gunmen.

 

Mr. Ogundeji, was ambushed by the bandits while returning home. Nothing was removed from the Kia Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) which he was driving. Reports from the Nigerian Police say armed robbers who had earlier snatched a car from a couple ambushed him at the spot, ordered him to stop and open his car door, an order which he was alleged to have refused to obey and which led to the robbers shooting him to death.

 

However, an eye witnessed gave a different account. The unnamed witness said the late journalist was shot at close range by men in Police uniform who had mounted a road block at the spot. The witness said he was stopped by the uniformed men who ordered him to open his door and when he refused to obey, one of the policemen shot him dead and they then boarded their vehicle and immediately left the scene, a version unto which the family is holding.

 

Mr. Ogundeji who joined the editorial board of ‘ThisDay’ newspaper about three months ago had worked with several media houses including: ‘The Guardian’, ‘The Punch’, and the defunct ‘Comet’ newspapers. He was also Chief Press Secretary to a former Lagos State Deputy Governor, Mr. Femi Pedro.

 

This incident is coming barely two years after the murder of ‘ThisDay’ newspaper editorial board Chairman, Mr. Godwin Agbroko on 22 December 2006 while returning home from the office. His killers have not been found.

 

The management of ‘Thisday’ newspaper petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mike Okiro, asking him to institute a thorough investigation of his men over the murder. It sent two petitions to the IGP on the matter: the first on the 18th and second on the 19th of August.

 

Mr. Eniola Bello, ‘ThisDay’ newspaper's Managing Director, in the petition said the paper’s management believes the police know more than they are making the public believe on the shooting of their worker.

 

In the first petition, ThisDay said: “We have strong reasons to believe that policemen on night patrol have a clue to the circumstances surrounding Mr. Ogundeji’s death.” This they based on the reconstruction of events of the attack by their Chief Security officer, Mr. Jacob Okolo.

 

The second petition was based on the report of the incident by another Nigerian daily, ‘Nigerian Compass’ which investigations said a resident claimed that he saw the late journalist argue with policemen shortly before he was shot dead.

 

The Nigerian Compass newspaper account was corroborated by the news story of the incident by another independent daily, ‘The Punch’ newspaper

On August 21, 2008, 21 civil rights groups, including Media Rights Agenda, under the aegis of Committee of Friends held a press conference at which they expressed shock and concerns over the incident.

 

They demanded that the Lagos State Police Command to setup an independent judicial panel of inquiry into the murder and media proprietors to embark on insurance policy for all journalists in their employment to address such and similar incidents.

 

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