KANO (AFP) – A purported spokesman for a Nigerian Islamist sect on Monday claimed responsibility for the weekend murder of a state television journalist, the first such attack targeting the media.
Nigeria Television Authority cameraman and reporter Zakariyya Isa was shot dead Saturday evening in front of his house shortly after leaving a mosque in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, where the sect known as Boko Haram has carried out most of its attacks.
“Zakariyya was not killed in error,” said the emailed statement from Abul Qaqa, who has claimed to speak on behalf of the sect a number of times in the past.
“We killed him because he was spying on us for Nigerian security authorities. The killing was carefully planned and executed.
“We have ample evidence … that he was giving vital information to security agencies on our mode of operation that led to the arrest of many of our members.”
There was however no evidence that the journalist had acted as an informant, and both his network and the secret police strongly denied the claim.
The statement, written in the Hausa language widely spoken in Nigeria’s north, said Boko Haram “killed him not because he was a journalist but for his personal misconduct.”
It added that the sect would not hesitate to “kill anybody that steps on our toes”.
The NTA manager in Maiduguri said he had “no reason to believe that (Isa) was working as a spy for the security agencies.”
“Zakariyya Isa was a dedicated and loyal staff,” said Daniya Mohammed. “He was a kind of person who could not hurt a fly. I was therefore shocked and sad when I learnt that he had been killed by some gunmen.”
Marilyn Ogar, a spokeswoman for Nigeria’s secret police, said Isa had not worked as an informant on her agency’s behalf.
Boko Haram has been blamed for scores of bomb blasts and shootings, mainly in Nigeria’s northeast. It also claimed responsibility for the August 26 bombing of UN headquarters in the capital Abuja that killed at least 24 people.