Authorities in Nigeria should conduct a swift and credible investigation into the killing of Maxwell Nashan, a reporter and newscaster with the government-owned Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), and determine whether his journalism was the motive for the attack, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Farmers found Nashan bound and gagged in Badarisa in the early hours of January 15, about 2 km from the FRCN office and about 3 km from his home in the Lainde community of northern Adamawa State, according to his employer, colleagues, and a relative, who spoke with CPJ. Nashan died in hospital later that day, according to Athma Wandani, a FRCN reporter, Anthony Shekara, an assistant head of the news and current affairs department at FRCN, and a member of the journalist’s family, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal.

Nashan covered the Adamawa State house of assembly, Wandani said. Shekara and Tafawa Hamza Mayo, an Adamawa State house of assembly correspondent for the government-owned National Television Authority, told CPJ they were not aware of any threats against Nashan. Shekara, who was Nashan’s supervisor, said he was not aware of any story that Nashan was working on that could have provoked the attack.

Suleiman Nguroje, an Adamawa State police public relations officer, told CPJ today that when they retrieved the journalist’s cell phone they found a message from Nashan saying that his life had been threatened. Nguroje did not provide further details and asked CPJ to call back later. Calls made later today were not answered.

“Maxwell Nashan must not become just another crime statistic, and investigators must consider whether his journalism was the motive for his killing,” Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, said in New York. “Authorities in Nigeria must work to ensure the safety of reporters, which includes investigating acts of violence against members of the press.”

Wandani and Nashan’s relative told CPJ by phone that based on when neighbors last saw the journalist, and markings on the floor and a smashed window, it appeared that Nashan was abducted and dragged from his home around 1 a.m. The relative added that a computer the journalist used for work was missing from his home, but that nothing else appeared to have been taken.

When CPJ spoke previously with the police public relations officer on January 16, Nguroje said that police were investigating Nashan’s killing and that a cash reward has been offered for information. In the call with CPJ today, Nguroje said that police had arrested eight suspects in connection with the case. 

At least five journalists, not including Nashan, have been killed in relation to their work in Nigeria since 2010. The country ranked twelfth on CPJ’s 2019 impunity index, which highlights countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go free.