A Nigerian journalist, Fejiro Oliver, is missing after travelling from his Asaba base to Abuja allegedly on the invitation of the Secretary to the Niger State Government, SSG, Saidu Ndako, on Friday.
Mr. Oliver, who is the Managing Editor of an online news medium, Daily Voice NG, was said to be working on a story on the activities of the Niger State government. PREMIUM TIMES learnt that he called Israel Ebije, the spokesperson to Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger, to seek the governor’s version of events in the story.
Mr. Ebije reportedly referred him to Mr. Ndako.
According to Mr. Ejiro’s wife, she last spoke with her husband on Friday while he was in Abuja to honour an appointment at the instance of Mr. Ndako. Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES over the telephone on Sunday, Mrs. Oliver said, “We were together when he received a call and he told me that the SSG of Niger state insisted that he should go over to Minna so that they can meet.”
She said her husband insisted that he would not go to Minna, but would meet with the SSG and Mr. Ebije in Abuja “for security reasons”.
Also speaking, the father of the missing journalist, Godwin Oliver, said his son has been missing since Friday after travelling to Abuja to meet with the Niger officials. “We have been trying to reach him but he has not been picking his calls. After sometime, the calls are either rejected or the phones are switched off and then put on back after sometime,” he said.
The senior Oliver said he planned to “go to all relevant security agencies by tomorrow (Monday) to report the matter since today is Sunday”. A close friend of Mr. Fejiro and human rights activist, Inibehe Effiong, also issued a statement on Saturday stating that Mr. Oliver had carried out an extensive investigation into the activities of the Niger State Government under Mr. Aliyu.
“After his investigation, he formally sought the response of the Niger State Government by contacting the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Saidu Idris Ndako Kpaki and the Chief Press Secretary to the Niger State Governor, Mr Israel A. Ebije. “Instead of responding to the issues pertaining to the alleged corrupt practices of governor Babangida Aliyu, the CPS, Mr. Ebije in an electronic mail he sent to Fejiro Oliver threatened and warned him to desist from going public with the report (the outcome of his investigations),” Mr. Effiong said.
He said the publication that Mr. Oliver works for, Daily Voice NG, few days ago wrote an editorial intimating security agencies and the general public of the threat to the life of Mr Oliver by the Niger State Government through Mr. Ebije.
Mr. Effiong also said as at the last time contacts were made with the journalist, “he was in Abuja for the sole purpose of meeting with the SSG”.
“We have reasons to believe that his incommunicado state or sudden disappearance has everything to do with his scheduled meeting with the Secretary to the Niger State Government, Alhaji Saidu Idris Ndako Kpaki. “We are therefore assuming based on the above facts that the SSG is in the know about Mr. Fejiro’s whereabouts,” he said.
Efforts to speak with the SSG, Mr. Ndako, were unsuccessful. He did not answer calls to his two mobile telephone lines. He also did not respond to a text message sent to him. In his version of events, Mr. Ebije confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Oliver had contacted him regarding a story he was working on.
He however denied threatening Mr. Oliver, but, rather “advised him to come to Minna and see for himself if the allegations against the governor are true or not. “In Niger state everything is done transparently and we have nothing to hide. The documents he is claiming to have are executive council decisions which were obviously given to him by an aggrieved official who has been relieved of his appointment,” the spokesperson said.
Mr. Ebije said he was in Abuja for an official function and “cannot confirm if he (Mr. Oliver) is with our people or not until probably tomorrow (Monday).
Editor’s Note: This story has been edited to reflect that the missing journalist traveled from his home in Asaba, Delta state, not Port Harcourt in Rivers state.