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Journalist forced into hiding after being threatened

(RSF/IFEX) - On 4 June 2009, Reporters Without Borders wrote to Chief Timipre Sylva, the governor of the southern state of Bayelsa, asking him to guarantee the safety of a journalist who went into hiding a week ago after being threatened. This is the text of the letter:

Chief Timipre Sylva,
Bayelsa State Governor,
Yenagoa, Nigeria

Paris, 4 June 2009

Dear Governor Sylva,

Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends press freedom worldwide, would like to share with you its concern about the safety of Segun James, the national newspaper "Thisday"'s correspondent in the state you govern. He has had to flee Yenagoa, the state capital, and go into hiding after learning that certain individuals are after him.

Several individuals who did not identify themselves made several visits to "Thisday"'s bureau in Yenagoa on 27 May asking where Segun James was. These repeated visits came the day after the publication of an article by James about the arrest of Ken Niweigha, the alleged mastermind of the 1999 murders of 12 policemen. It is reported that Niweigha is the elder brother of your current aide-de-camp. You reportedly denied this in an interview for Bayelsa Radio.

It is not entirely clear why these individuals are currently looking for James. We urge you to take this matter very seriously and do everything possible to identify the people who are threatening him.

As you know, journalists are often the victims of intimidation and physical attacks in Nigeria. By publicly undertaking to guarantee James's security you would demonstrate your commitment to press freedom and would sent a strong signal to all those who might be tempted to target journalists in Bayelsa State.

We trust you will give our request your careful consideration.


Jean-François Julliard
Secretary General

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