Nigeria: Bagauda Kaltho – 26 Years After, CSOs Demand Fresh Probe Into Journalist’s Death

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria have called for the immediate probe of the mystery behind the death of a Nigerian journalist, Bagauda Kaltho, 26 years after the incident took place.

The CSOs maintained that though the incident happened during the military regime of the late General Sani Abacha, there is no time limit for investigation into cases bordering on human rights abuses.

They insisted that people who took part in such a heinous act must be brought to face justice, adding that it would serve as a deterrent to others.

LEADERSHIP recalls that wife of the missing journalist Bagauda Kaltho, Mrs Martha Kaltho, had called for investigation into her husband’s mysterious disappearance during the regime of the late General Sani Abacha.

Mrs Kaltho, in an exclusive interview with our sister publication, LEADERSHIP Friday, said activist, Shehu Mahdi and ex-US envoy to Nigeria, Russell Hanks, should be held accountable for the whereabouts of her husband who has not been seen since 1996.

Her call came after Shehu Mahdi had claimed in an interview with Arise News that Hanks may have recruited Bagauda Kaltho to plant the bomb which exploded at Dubar Hotel in Kaduna in 1995.

Mahdi had said that Mr Hanks had offered him N1 million to plant a bomb at Durbar Hotel in Kaduna to unsettle the Abacha regime, which he had turned down outrightly.

Mahdi said as he was leaving the Hamdala Hotel room where he had met with Hanks, Bagauda Kaltho was on his way to meet the US envoy and about four to five hours later, a bomb went off in the Durbar Hotel, raising the possibility that the missing journalist may have taken Mr Hank’s offer.

When he was contacted, Mr Hanks admitted he was at the places mentioned, but that he would not make say anything until the US Embassy comment on the issue.

But Mrs Kaltho dismissed Mahdi’s claim, calling on the federal government to reopen investigation into her husband’s disappearance which happened between 1996 and 1997 during the military regime of the late Gen Abacha.

A media rights group in Nigeria, Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER), also faulted claims by Mahdi Shehu, suggesting he knew how and why journalist Bagauda Kaltho was killed in 2006.

Lending their voices, CSOs in Nigerian have insisted that such a crime must not be swept under the carpet.

The CSOs who spoke with LEADERSHIP on the matter are Transparency International (TI), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG).

Speaking through their leader, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, the CSOs said the investigation will not be about whether the Buhari-led government was aware of the incident or not, adding that such atrocities must be investigated no matter how long it takes.

Rafsanjani said, “Is not about the government. It is about the country. There is nothing wrong with the government investigating the killing of Journalist Bagauda Kaltho.

“Even though it happened during the military, the government must investigate it because there are human rights violations, and we will continue to insist that such investigation is carried out.

“It is the duty of the government to investigate. It doesn’t matter when it happened. The crime must be investigated no matter how long it takes.

“The government should Investigate this mystery and ensure that perpetrators are brought to book, it will help. It will serve as a deterrent to others. It will help in avoiding that kind of human rights abuses.”

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