A Nigerian journalist, Jaafar Jaafar, has fled the country to the United Kingdom over alleged threats to his life.
Mr Jaafar, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview on Sunday, said he has relocated with his family and will not be returning to the country ‘until the coast is clear.’
The newspaper publisher, who was recently invited by the police over alleged defamation of the police chief’s character, said he will only return to Nigeria when the government can guarantee his safety.
“I’ll be here until this regime can guarantee my safety and protect freedom of the press,” he said.
Mr Jaafar’s ordeals started about a month after Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje revealed that those behind a video of him collecting bribe would be brought to shame.
Mr Jaafar’s Daily Nigerian newspaper had in October 2018 published a video that showed Mr Ganduje collecting money in dollars from a government contractor.
In the video, the governor was seen collecting the dollars before rolling them into his white dress, called “babanriga,” in one of a series of questionable deals allegedly struck over a span of several months.
The video damaged Mr Ganduje’s reputation although it did not stop his reelection in 2019.
Mr Ganduje also stopped the state assembly from probing the video.
On a BBC Hausa programme, ‘Afada Acika’, the governor in March this year insisted the video was ‘cloned’ (manipulated).
“The video is fake and we are preparing to prove that. But I cannot preempt what we are doing with regard to that. I am assuring you this video is fake and all those that are behind it would be put to shame,” the governor said.
Mr Jaafar has insisted the video is authentic and independent checks including one by PREMIUM TIMES showed the original video was not doctored.
The Nigeria Police Force last month wrote to Mr Jaafar inviting him for questioning.
According to a letter signed by A.A Elleman, the head of the Inspector General of Police Monitoring unit, Mr Ja’afar was accused of defaming the Inspector General of Police (IGP), though the letter did not state whether it is the present acting IGP, Usman Alkali, or his predecessor, Mohammed Adamu.
The journalist, however, went into hiding saying he was scared for his life.
He told PREMIUM TIMES from his hideout then that “there was never a time he mentioned either the former or present IGP in any of his stories.”
He also accused the police of trying to arrest him upon arrival in its office.
“Police are trying to file criminal charges against me for publishing Ganduje videos,” he said. “That I defamed the character of IGP is a bait to arrest, detain and file criminal charges against me,” he said.
“I wrote nothing against the former and the current IGP,” he said.
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