The investigation into the murder of Paul Abayomi Ogundeji, journalist on the privately-owned daily Thisday, and member of its editorial committee, has been handed to the judicial police, regional authorities in Lagos State said on 20 January.
The journalist was shot dead in the Dopemu district of the capital Lagos on 17 August 2008 as he was returning home in his car.
Police said that Abayomi Ogundeji was killed by armed men who blocked the road and told him to open his car door, opening fire when he refused. Local residents who witnessed the shooting said however that there was a dispute between the journalist and several police officers manning a roadblock and the officers shot him when he tried to continue his journey.
“Only a thorough and independent investigation can lift the doubts surrounding the death of Paul Abayomi Ogundeji”, Reporters Without Borders said. “It is essential that the killers be identified and convicted in order to protect Nigerian journalists, who are subjected to repeated violence,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
21.08.08 - Journalist murdered in unclear circumstances in Lagos
Reporters Without Borders is saddened and dismayed by the murder of Paul Abayomi Ogundeji, a reporter for the privately-owned daily Thisday and a member of its editorial board. He was gunned down in Lagos on 17 August, less than two years after Godwin Agbroko, the chairman of its editorial board, was killed in similar circumstances.
The press freedom organisation wrote today to police commissioner Ali Amadu of the Special Investigation Unit, who is in charge of the case, asking him to ensure that the investigation is “credible and transparent” and that all leads are followed up, including information provided to the inspector general of police by Thisday managing director Eniola Bello indicating the possible involvement of police officers.
According to initial police information, Ogundeji was shot dead in the Lagos neighbourhood of Dopemu at around 11 p.m. as he was returning home by car. Gunmen were said to have blocked his way, told him to open his car door, and opened fire when he refused.
However, in his petition to the inspector general, Bello quoted an alleged statement by a policeman that Ogundeji ignored police orders to stop at a police checkpoint before getting himself killed. The 19 August issues of two independent dailies, The Punch and The Nigerian Compass, quoted an unidentified source as saying he saw uniformed police officers shoot Ogundeji.
Police commissioner Amadu met with the staff of Thisday yesterday, assured them that he realised the seriousness of this evidence and appealed to anyone with information that could help the investigation to come forward.
Ogundeji had worked for a range of Nigerian newspapers including The Guardian, The Punch, The Comet and The Week. He had just joined Thisday’s editorial board after stepping down as press spokesman for Femi Pedro, the former deputy governor of Lagos state, who was the opposition Labour Party’s candidate in last year’s general elections.