The Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) has condemned the April 26 coordinated suicide bomb attacks on three media houses in Abuja and Kaduna, pledging to assist the country’s security agencies in finding a lasting solution to the challenges of insecurity.
The condemnation is coming on the heels of the alarm raised by the chairman of one of the national newspapers about an attempted trespass into his Abuja residence by some unknown persons.
According to a statement signed by the executive secretary of NPAN, Mr. Feyi Smith, and made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday, the attacks were an assault on the freedom of speech and expression.
Suicide bombers had, in coordinated attacks carried out in the Abuja office of ThisDay and Kaduna offices of ThisDay, Sun and The Moment, in the morning of April 26, killed more than a dozen people including some staff of the media houses. A group, often called Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the attacks and threatened to carry out more attacks on media houses.
NPAN expressed serious concern over the worsening state of insecurity in the country and urged the federal government to take every necessary action to give meaning and expression to its basic constitutional responsibility of protecting life and property. The association expressed solidarity with the affected media houses and sent condolences to the families of the victims.
The newspaper proprietors, at its emergency meeting held in Abuja, described the attacks as an assault on the freedom of speech and expression but said it would not be cowed in the discharge of its constitutional duty.
The organisation urged the media and all well-meaning Nigerians to continue to do all they can to pull the nation back from the brink by promoting national healing, understanding, accountability and justice. It also expressed appreciation to the people of Nigeria and the international community for their solidarity, support and fortitude.
Meanwhile, LEADERSHIP learnt that three suspicious men in their late 30s on Friday stormed the Abuja residence of the chairman of a prominent newspaper, threatening the security guard to open the gates for them.
This development is coming just some few days after video clips purportedly from Boko Haram showed live footages of the ThisDay bomb attack, and the sect threatening to attack more media houses and their staff.
According to the chief security officer (CSO) of the newspaper, the three suspicious men went to the residence of the chairman around 10am last Friday, trying to confirm from the security guard on duty, whether the house “was the one that belongs to the chief executive of one of the newspapers in Abuja”.
When the guard said no, the men who came in an ash posh Honda Civic Coupe, with registration number BL 927 RBC, changed their story. They told the guard that the house was actually put off for sale and they were potential buyers who were there to inspect it, urging him to open the gates for them to get into the compound.
The guard said that when he refused to open the gates for them, an argument ensued among them and one of them said, “It is the house, so let us just go.” The other one said, “Let us stay and see if we can inspect the compound.”
The CSO said that the men went to the house at a time when there was virtually nobody around except the unarmed private guard, cleaners, and other house-helps. He said, the children had left for school and their parents also left for work.
The CSO said that the motives of the people became suspicious because “there was no sign pasted on the property to indicate that it was for sale.
“Also, the men were not accompanied by any of the purported estate agents”. In fact, when the chairman contacted the landlord to find out whether he actually put the property for sale, the landlord was embarrassed beyond comment,” he said, adding that the matter has since been reported to the relevant authorities.