October 23, 2014

Breaking News: Boko Haram has Punch, Vanguard and Daily Trust in cross hairs

Nigeria’s radical Boko Haram sect has once again claimed responsibility for the coordinated bomb attacks on Nigerian leading newspaper, This Day, and has threatened more attacks on other newspaper houses, who they claim have been the bearer of false reports about the sect’s activities.

In a new 18-minute video message posted on YouTube today, a purported spokesman for the sect said the attack on Thisday newspapers was in connection to a controversial op-ed article published by the paper during the beauty pageant that had been scheduled to hold in November 2002.

Unlike other videos in the past, with messages delivered by the sect’s spiritual leader, Imam Abubakar Shekau, this fourth message from the sect simply shows video footage captured by the Premium Times and Channels Television, while a faceless voice delivers the sect’s eerie warning.

Fourteen minutes into the video message, the face of the suicide bomber who attacked Thisday offices in Abuja is revealed. Calm and all smiles, the suicide bomber delivers what is presumably his last message. He is then pictures from across the street, driving a black SUV through the opened gates of the newspaper building.

The impact of the deadly explosion can be seen in the video, reducing the newspaper office to debris and shattering the glass windows off a nearby office building.

Boko Haram reveals that the attack on Thisday papers is only the first in a three-part attack on news media houses in Nigeria. According to the video message, Thisday is still a target for the sect. The paper is accused of being at the forefront of publishing erroneous articles about the sect, the message said.

The sect has reportedly been planning its attack on Thisday since 2002, when opinion writer, Isioma Daniel, published her controversial article about a beauty pageant scheduled to hold in mostly Muslim Kaduna state.

Daniel’s article contained disparaging comments about Islam’s Prophet Mohammed and made her a target. She has since fled to Norway and is yet to return to Nigeria, even after some Muslim leaders declared she was forgiven.

In the video message, the sect assured that the reporter is far from forgiven. The sect, in the message, threatened to kill her on sight.

Boko Haram further stated that they attacked Thisday for several false reports about the sect that the paper published.

They strongly denied claims that they were behind the Sokoto kidnapping of British and Italian expats, Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara, both of whom were shot dead in the middle of a failed rescue attempt by combined British and Nigerian forces.

Boko Haram, while approving of the end result, denied reports published by Thisday and other media outlets, which said they were behind the kidnapping.

The sect also faulted the paper with the misinterpretation of its last video message, denying that they threatened to “devour” Jonathan’s administration in three months.

Boko Haram also denied reports, published in several media outlets, including Thisday, that they were behind the murder of Abul Qaqa’s father. The sect, who still insist that their spokesman Abul Qaqa is not in SSS custody, contrary to reports, said they had no hand the killing of Qaqa’s father.

For these listed reasons, the sect says, they will continue their attacks on Thisday newspapers.

The threats don’t stop there

According to translations of the video message, delivered in Hausa language, the sect is planning a second and third phase of attacks that will target other major newspaper houses.

The second phase of attacks, the message stated, will target Punch, Vanguard, the Nation, Daily Sun, National Accord and Voice of America Hausa.

Boko Haram also has a third group of papers in its cross hairs. They include – Leadership, Daily Trust and Radio France International. It added, however, that the third group could escape attacks if they remained neutral in their reports.

The sect also issued a warning to whistleblowing website, Sahara Reporters. It said the online news and opinion writers are known to give non-believers a platform to write articles that discredit Islam.

The warnings come after a spate of deadly attacks by the sect has gridlocked the nation in fear and uncertainty.

Boko Haram has waged an increasingly violent war on peace and security in Africa’s most populous nation. The recent wave of attacks in the past few days has claimed over 30 lives, bringing the death toll from Boko Haram violence to over 300 in 2012 alone.

About the author  ⁄ Pilot Africa

Pilot Africa News is run and edited by Chika Moses. A video journalist eager to find new, great and inspiring content in Nigeria and Africa. Got a story tip? Send a message!