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Newspaper editor allegedly targeted for assassination following exposé of government budget scam

(MRA/IFEX) - On 22 April 2008, the Sunday editor of the Lagos-based private "Daily Sun" newspaper, Ms. Funke Egbemode, allegedly received threats to her life from some unidentified members of Nigeria's House of Representatives for breaking a story of an alleged budget scam in the House and leading the "Sunday Sun" with it for two consecutive weeks

Egbemode said she has been receiving strange phone calls, including warnings from those who said they were calling her as well-wishers. She added: "The first call came from someone who mentioned the names of two members of the House of Representatives whom, he said, he overheard discussing that they had decided to 'come after me' for daring to publish the story.

"He told me to be careful where I go and with whom I speak in the days ahead. He told me that the plan to harm me may not be known to all the members, but it was real all the same."

The "Daily Sun" newspaper said it gathered that a certain group has been formed to ensure that Egbemode is "permanently kept out of circulation".

Continuing, Egbemode disclosed that: "At about 5.00 p.m. [on 22 April] I got another call that a member of the newly-constituted group is moving around with smear stories about me and how it was a matter of time before I would be silenced. Considering those behind the plot, I know they are capable of everything and anything. They have a track record of meanness. They are experts at both smear campaigns and hatchet jobs and since they cannot punch holes in the story, they have decided to come after me."

The "Sunday Sun" newspaper, in its 13 April edition, led with story of the budget with the headline: "House bazaar: Reps splash N2.7bn on New Cars." A follow-up article on 20 April was entitled: "Budget scam: How Reps milk Nigeria."

Meanwhile, the House Committee Chairman on Media and Publicity, Hon Eziuche Ubani, in a statement on 22 April, entitled 'The matter with the house budget", confirmed the "Sunday Sun" allegations, saying that "as representatives of the people who should at all times be accountable to them, we can confirm that such discrepancies exist in the 2008 budget."

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