December 6, 2021

MISSING JOURNALIST: NUJ Storms Force Headquarters, Demands Colleague’s Whereabouts

By Shola Akingboye, 25 October 2021

It was all roads to the Nigerian Police Force Headquarters on Monday, as journalists collapsed routine assignments for an early morning match to the Louise Edet’s House in Abuja with a demand for the whereabouts of their missing colleague, Mr Tordue Salem, twelve days after.

Recalls that the Vanguard Newspaper’s staff attached to the National Assembly has been missing close to two weeks without any official statement from any quarter among the security operatives, hence the curiosity by the NUJ-FCT Council for a demand to know the whereabouts of their member.

Led by the Chapter’s Chairman, Emmanuel Ogbeche, the FCT journalists in their numbers, armed with a petition including various placards amidst solidarity songs and slogans on quest for the quick rescue of Tordue.

Addressing the Inspector General of Police, Mr Alkali Baba, represented by the Force Spokesperson, Mr Frank Mba, Ogbeche seized the opportunity to engage the Nigerian Police Force on the precarious level of insecurity in the country, vis-à-vis how journalists lives in Nigeria have become too expensive to protect by those saddled with such responsibilities, the Nigerian security agencies.

“We the executives and members NUJ-FCT brings you paternal greetings and commends your efforts and those of your officers and men in tackling the myriad of security challenges facing our country at the moment.

“The IGP sir, you are aware, a colleague of ours and a journalist of note, Mr Tordue Henry Salem of the Vanguard Newspaper went missing on the Wednesday October 13th 2021 right in front of the Total Filling station less than 100 meters from the Force Headquarters.

“We have a petition here with us, addressed to the IGP Baba Ahmed Alkali, demanding that the Police should expedite action to locate and rescue Tordue Henry Salem, a journalist correspondent with the Vanguard Newspaper, who has been missing for 12 days as of Monday, October, the 25th 2021.

“It is regrettable to note that since Henry Salem went missing, there was nothing much has happened to indicate whether is alive or dead, whether is in captive of the state or non-state actor.

“The IGP, it is relevant that we remind you that the state owes all Nigerian, particularly a journalist protection and assurance of safety.

“Nigerian has continued to fair badly on the crime index for six consecutive years, and it will be most unfortunate if the disappearance of Mr Tordue Henry Salem has not been a priority.

“In 2020, a report of the Reporters Without Borders shows that Nigeria went further down the Press Freedom Index from 115 to 120 out of 180 countries, with the telling remark that Nigeria remains one of West Africa most dangerous and countries country for journalists.

“Also, in June 2021, report of the Nigerian Union of Journalist and Media Foundation for West Africa reveals that the Nigerian Media records 7 unresolved killings, violations that affected about 500 journalists, media workers and media houses in Nigeria.

“What underscore is that the prevailing environment is unsaved, suffocating and dangerous not just for journalists and other media workers, but for the sustenance of democracy.

“It is in this wise that we are here to demand, that Mr Tordue Henry Salem should not only be found but that adequate protection be offered to journalists going forward. The culture of assessments, intimidation, brutalization and disappearance must end.

“Our demand is enforced by the fact that the approaching 2023 general election be safe against the political elites, who have become more desperate to hang on to power because they will not want to be held accountable to the generality of the Nigerian people, the media thus becomes their major targets.

“This culture of impunity should and must be arrested by the Nigerian Police as the primary security agency as well as other sister agencies.

“Regarding Mr Tordue Henry, we demand that the matter be transfer to the Special Unit of the IGP. While we appreciate the ethics of the FCT Command, the magnitude of the disappearance demands a high focus and coordinated unit under the office of the IGP.

“The IGP, it is, for this reason, more than your office urgently needs to provide an answer which is to unite Tordue Henry Salem with his family,” Ogbeche stressed.

Meanwhile, following the presentation of the petition to the IGP, Mr Alkali through the Force spokesman, Frank Mba gave the highlights of the efforts made by the office of the IGP as well as the Commissioner at the FCT Police Command, to unravel the circumstance behind the disappearance of Mr Tordue.

Mba reiterated the working tradition of the Nigerian Police Force, saying the sensitive nature of the disappearance of Mr Tordue would not have allowed the Police to let out the kite from the bag on them efforts by the Police to rescue Tordue.

He updated the public that the critical information that may hinder the rescue and the safe returns of the missing journalist remains intact until the journalist is rescued.

“Am here on behalf of the IGP, first, to appreciate your visit and concerns, love for your colleague and the deep sense of spirit décor existing among you.

“Indeed, the case with Mr Salem Tordue is with us, it was reported to us by the National Assembly Police station where the case was first reported.

“Our investigation reveals that Mr Tordue was last seen at the NASS, between 4-5PM on Wednesday, 13h October 2021. Thereafter, his colleagues never got to see him again.

“On the 15th of October, the matter was formally reported at the National Assembly Police station, and both the attention of the Commissioner and that of the IGP was drawn to the case.

“The IGP thus directed that no human and material resources should be spared in efforts at locating and understanding the rationale behind his disappearance,” Mba revealed.

While also acceded to the demands of the union with assurance to table the content of the petition before the IGP, he appeal for the cooperation of the protesting journalists that their missing colleague would be found.

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