Committee to Protect Journalists

A Nigerian newspaper columnist was abducted from her home early Sunday, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Nigerian authorities to do their utmost to find Donu Kogbara, establish a motive for the abduction, and apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators. 

“We condemn the kidnapping of Vanguard columnist Donu Kogbara and call on Nigerian authorities to launch an immediate and efficient investigation,” said Peter Nkanga, CPJ’s West Africa representative.

Unidentified gunmen entered Kogbara’s home in Port Harcourt city, capital of Rivers state, captured the journalist, and drove her away in a jeep, according to news reports. The journalist’s family was at home during the abduction, news reports said. Jimitota Onoyume, Vanguard‘s bureau chief in Rivers State, told CPJ that eyewitnesses said two of the assailants entered the house while four others waited outside. Kogbara has not been seen nor heard from since, news reports said.

Ahmed Muhammad, a police spokesman for Rivers state, told CPJ that police had launched an investigation into Kogbara’s abduction.

Kogbara has worked for the independent Vanguard newspaper for around 30 years, Gbenga Adefaye, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, told CPJ. He said that Kogbara wrote a column on politics and that he was unaware if she had received threats in connection with her work. Kogbara has also worked for the BBC, Channel 4, and the Sunday Times, among other outlets, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Kogbara’s columns have often been criticized by readers for her strong opinions, CPJ found. In an August 21, 2015, article, Kogbara wrote about a change in rules governing foreign exchange transfers, which she said would negatively impact those with modest incomes. In her follow-up and last article, she wrote about how she was contacted by “a few disgruntled supporters of the previous administration” who were “glad that I was being inconvenienced.” In another article in July, Kogbara called for employees of former President Goodluck Jonathan who were allegedly returning money they had stolen to be “rounded up, one by one, and arrested, named, blamed, shamed, and jailed.”

Adefaye told CPJ on Tuesday that the kidnappers had not contacted the newspaper for ransom.

Abductions in Nigeria’s southern Niger Delta region are rife, according to news reports. A score of journalists have been abducted for ransom at different times over the years in Nigeria’s restive southern region. The Vanguard‘s Onoyume told CPJ that kidnappers often believe that journalists are affluent because they are at times seen on TV or interacting with politicians and government officials.