Nigeria’s foremost media rights, Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) has faulted claims by a Nigerian medical doctor, Mahdi Shehu suggesting he knew how and why a journalist, Baguada Kaltho was killed.
JODER called on the National Assembly to institute a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate Dr Shehu claims so as to know the facts about the murder of Baguada Kaltho.
Shehu who spoke in an interview on Arise TV early this week claimed he refused a parcel bomb given to him by one Mr Russel Hanks and left Nigerians with the the impression that Kaltho was later given a parcel bomb by the American which led to his death.
‘Dr Shehu’s fresh attempt to link the death of Bagauda Kaltho to an official of the United States Embassy has raised fresh concerns not only about the heinous crime committed against the late Kaltho but also against the Nigerian media. This is one issue that should not be allowed to go unprobed,’ JODER said in a statement signed by its official, Mr Adewale Adeoye.
The group said Shehu’s position has added added new twist to what has remained an unresolved murder and that it should be in the interest of free speech speech the media to pursue every angle to its logical end.
JODER said for now, Shehu has left many gaps in his story which make his conclusion to appear questionable and therefore calls for further investigations by independent parties so that those responsible for Kaltho’s death will be held accountable based on convincing and incontrovertible evidence.
The rights group said Dr Shehu’s claims are too plain to be believed especially his statement that the American gave him a parcel bomb to attack Durbar Hotel in Kaduna in June 1995 for N1million .
‘It looks too curious that an American diplomat would work so openly, handing over a parcel bomb to someone he met in few days and sounds difficult to believe that the official, even if he was a secret agent, would make himself so vulnerable to easy exposure by relatively unknown third party,” JODER said in the complex realm of international diplomacy, it is difficult to believe that the Political attaché of the US would personally hand over a parcel bomb in a public place like Durbar Hotel without even the fear of a set up by the Nigerian state.
But if this was the case, Shehu needs to come forward with more information that will help unravel the murder of Kaltho
It is also curious that while Shehu claimed he reported the issue to the late General Sani Abacha, the same dictator did nothing about it to expose the alleged conspiracy knowing the bitter feud at that time between Abacha and Western
‘It raises serious suspicion that Shehu claimed he shared the information only with the ruling brutal military regime at the time but not with the Nigerian Union of Journalists, (NUJ), any media rights group nor any civil society organization at home and abroad questioning the character of Shehu, his background, what he stands for and the interest he represents.’
JODER calls on the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ and all media institutions to rise up to the occasion that should help unravel one of the most grievous crimes in the history of the Nigerian media
The group said Shehu owes the Nigerian media broader explanations why he did not come forward during the Oputa Panel to speak on Kaltho’s death and why he had to wait for 27 years.
The group said Shehu should come up with coherent and indisputable evidence, else he would leave the media and Nigerians with the strong suspicion that Kaltho’s death was being used to reap cheap political gains.
JODER said unless Shehu establishes a more a realistic proof, two issues will be associated with his statement: a conscious attempt to promote some political interests and an unhidden intention to destroy the legacy of forces that fought against the draconian military regime that stunted Nigeria in the 1990s which prompted the emergence of pro-democracy forces supported by democratic nations, including but not limited to the United States.
JODER said Dr Shehu needed to be held accountable by Nigerian journalists to explain in full the circumstances of his position and if possible if there are other of his hidden motives unknown to Nigerians.
Kaltho was a correspondent with The News Magazine and until now was believed to have been murdered through a bomb linked to state authorities during the brutal reign of the late General Sanni Abacha.