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CPJ: Nigerian journalist Saviour Imukudo receives death threats over construction project reporting

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On January 5, 2023, Saviour Imukudo, a regional reporter with the privately owned news website Premium Times, received death threats over the phone from the supervisor of an allegedly poorly executed government-commissioned construction project in Nigeria’s southern Akwa Ibom State, according to Imukudo, who spoke with CPJ by phone, and a report he wrote for the Premium Times.

“’I am going to follow you up. Be careful. Be careful!’” the project supervisor, Andrew Okure, told Imukudo over the phone, according to the journalist. Another unidentified person on Okure’s end of the phone line said on the call, “Look at you, look at six feet. Don’t worry. Thank God, I know your name now. Somebody is telling you to go and die and you are following the person.”

Imukudo told CPJ that he had first contacted Okure for comment on December 24, 2022, while reporting on the deteriorating condition of 30 market stalls in the Abiakpo Nkap community. Okure, who had overseen the renovation earlier that year, became angry and ended the call after hearing that the journalist was investigating the project.

On January 5, a day after Imukudo’s report on the reconstruction project was published, Okure called the journalist back and threatened him, according to the Premium Times report and Imukudo.

Imukudo told CPJ that he did not take the threats lightly and did not pick up Okure’s subsequent calls but added that as of January 19 he had not received further threats and had not lodged a formal police complaint.

Reached by phone, Okure denied threatening Imukudo. He told CPJ that by “following up,” he meant that he would complete the renovation of the market stalls, not that he would have his eye on Imukudo. He added that the voice heard in the background by the journalist was not referring to Imukudo or his reporting.

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