For Exposing Terrorism Funding, Illegal Mining in Niger State, Police Threaten WikkiTimes Editor, Wife, Others

Yakubu Mohammed, WikkiTimes editor and the author of an investigative report exposing terrorism funding and illegal mining in Niger State, has been on the police watchlist and his wife, colleagues and friends have been the targets of coordinated threat.

His investigation unearthed how Chinese-allied miners operating under the licenses of Eso Terra Investment Limited and Majelo Global Resources Limited plundered the country’s natural resources while allegedly bribing armed bandits faction of Dogo Gide, a notorious kingpin terrorising Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna and Kebbi states.

Police officers in Bauchi and Niger tracked his phone number including that of his wife,  Nafisat. In the search for the editor, a police officer, identified as Muhammad Hamzat by Truecaller also contacted his friend, Mustapha Gangare and WikkiTimes’s reporters Usman Babaji and Rabiu Tahir Musa. The officer claimed that a signal was sent from Niger Police Command.

A screenshot of the police officer’s contact on Truecaller

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The police told Rabiu, Babaji and Mustapha they are “sub-targets.” The officer [Hamzat] who called Yakubu’s wife, threatened that he knew her location and could have found her if he wanted. He further pressed her to provide her husband’s whereabouts.


When the officer contacted Mustapha on Thursday, he claimed the police were looking for someone who “stole” a phone and they realised he is among the sub-targets.

The officer further invited Mustapha to a meeting, but he declined, asking for an official letter stating reason for the invitation.

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“The police officer later said a signal was sent from Niger and that they are looking for Yakubu Mohammed,” Mustapha told WikkiTimes, noting his confirmation that the police were after the editor in relation to his work.

“The police officer later said a signal was sent from Niger and that they are looking for Yakubu Mohammed,” Mustapha told WikkiTimes, noting his confirmation that the police were after the editor in relation to his work.

Similarly, when the police reached out to Rabiu, they told him they were looking for someone and he appeared as a sub-target. They would later invite him, but he is yet to honour the invitation due to the suspicious nature of the request.

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However, a WikkiTimes reporter, Babaji who was also contacted, has honoured the police invitation.  According to the police, Babaji was invited to assist the force in finding Muhammed in connection to their investigation.

“Initially, I was called by someone who identified himself as Sunusi from the Bauchi State Criminal Investigation Department (CID),” Babaji said.  “He requested to know my whereabouts and claimed that I should help him with something on his phone. I clearly told him that I was uncomfortable with his request and couldn’t trust his identity.”

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Babaji, however, advised the officer to make his request through the Bauchi State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ahmed Mohammed Wakil. Babaji visited the command on Wednesday, five minutes after he was again called by another officer who identified himself as Inspector Muhammad Hamzat.

“It was clear, they were looking for Yakubu, whom I often speak with on my phone as my editor. That was the reason they tracked our numbers. I told them he was my senior colleague and a WikkiTimes Editor. I informed them that he has travelled out, but would honour their invitation on his return,” said Babaji.

“According to the officer, the directives came from the Niger State police command on a story he did, noting that one of the complainants is based in Bauchi.”

WikkiTimes has found out that  Ali Arzuka, one of the actors allegedly involved in illegal mining and mentioned in the story, is based in Bauchi State.

Wasiu Abiodun, spokesman for Niger Police Command said he was unaware of the search warrant, “but I will find out,” he said. 

However, he noted that the police have the right to initiate a search “against any citizen.”

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The conflict reporter and WikkiTimes editor, after receiving a distress call from his wife and others, contacted the Niger State Police Command to express his displeasure over the manhunt and threats against his affiliates.

Mohammed was among the network of over 2,000 investigative journalists from 130 countries who met at Gothenburg, Sweden between September 19 and 22, for the Global Investigative Journalism Conference (GIJC). But Mohammed is likely to spend more weeks in the European country due to health issues he had during the conference.

“I spoke to Wasiu Abiodun, the Niger State Police Public Relations Officer and Shehu Dahiru, the head of Intelligence unit in the command,” he said via a WhatsApp call. “I complained about the threats and noted that the police could be more civil in dealing with issues that concern journalists doing their works, but both officers said they were unaware of the threats.”

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The head of the intelligence unit later told Yakubu that the case was being handled by the CID in Niger State. He said the Bauchi Command was contacted to follow up with the matter.

“I understand the police had come after us [at WikkiTimes] several times following any investigative report,” Yakubu noted. “But this appears to be more of coordinated efforts.”

He continued: “After the investigation was published, many people including those mentioned have called me and one of them made an appeal that I take down the story, but I refused because it’s against WikkiTime’s policy. I explained that a story can only be pulled down from the website if it is proven to be false.

“And so far, nobody has succeeded to do so .”

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Meanwhile, the Niger State government on Monday announced that it had commenced profiling all miners across the state following complaints that they were bribing terrorists to access mining sites in the state.

The state governor, Mohammed Umaru Bago, had said that banditry in the state had persisted due to unchecked mining activities in the affected communities.

The WikkiTimes investigation also pointed out that despite the presence of terror groups ISWAP and the bandits’ faction of Dogo Gide, the mining activities continued in Kurebe and other surrounding villages of the state, even after many residents deserted the axis following attacks from the military and terrorists.


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