Newspaper Correspondent Threatened, Police Refuse to Provide Protection

Mr. Etim Ekpima
Mr. Etim Ekpima, the Akwa Ibom State correspondent of The Punch newspapers

Mr. Etim Ekpima, The Punch newspaper correspondent in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital in southern Nigeria, has been asked by the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Gabriel Achong, to leave the State as the Police will not protect him from the unidentified persons threatening his life.

Commissioner Achong reportedly issued the warning to Ekpima in a telephone conversation on 16 March 2015 when the journalist lodged a complaint with him over threats to his life as a result of recent articles he wrote for his newspaper.

Ekpima said he has received threats since the publication by the “Sunday Punch” newspaper of 15 March of a story titled, “Akwa Ibom: State where commissioners, others, kneel for Akpabio’s wife.”

The story, accompanied with a photograph, reported that members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, commissioners and other senior government officials in the State have to kneel down before the wife of the State governor when talking to her.

The Police Commissioner accused Ekpima of collecting money from opposition parties to write stories against the officials of the Akwa Ibom State government.

According to Ekpima, Commissioner Achong told him, “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 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.  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?”

Explaining one of the threats he has received, Ekpima said a text message was forwarded to him, allegedly from one Mr. Martin Akpan, threatening that he and others whom he did not name, would use force to get Ekpima out of the state.

The threat message from Akpan, originally sent to Mr. Emeka Madunagu, a former Saturday Punch Editor, reads: “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.”