The Publisher of Africa Oil and Gas Report, a magazine focusing on the petroleum sector, Toyin Akinosho, has fled Nigeria, following threats to his life, supposedly on account of scathing revelations about the corruption in the industry published by his magazine.
Mr. Akinosho fled the country and went into hiding following the March 20 multiple attacks on his car and driver by unknown men who kept asking for the publisher’s whereabouts.
Mr. Akinosho, a trained geologist and one of Nigeria’s most respected oil and gas journalists, started the magazine after working for several years in Chevron “with a view to enabling the general public and industry watchers get a clearer view and understanding of the practice in the oil and gas industry”.
The journalist now believe the hard-hitting reporting of his magazine has now made him prime targets of deadly attacks.
On March 20, five suspected assassins waylaid Mr. Akinosho’s driver while driving his boss’ car in the Ikoyi area of Lagos.
Mr. Akinosho had flown to Abuja earlier that evening, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
“As I came out from our street to enter the main road, I saw a white Hilux (mini truck) following me,” Yinusa, Mr. Akinosho’s driver, said. “I wanted to branch into another road but because they were still following me, I decided to go straight. But they still followed me. At 41 Road, there is a junction that you can branch from, to Ikoyi or to the (exit) gate.
“It was at that spot that they blocked me with their car and stopped me. They came down and were asking me ‘Where is Toyin Akinosho?’ and I told them that I don’t know who Toyin Akinosho is; that I have never heard that name in my life before. I also told them that (the) publisher’s car is my personal car and that the name Toyin Akinosho does not ring a bell. It was at that point that they returned into their vehicle and drove off.”
He continued, “They entered their car and I kept moving because I thought it would be unwise for me to go back home right away. As they moved, they were moving slowly and then later turned to the roundabout that leads to Ikoyi; but I went straight to gate. But as I looked into my side mirror, I saw that they were still following me and I thought to myself that if I went home, they might still trace me to the house to know where we were staying. So, I went straight and bent towards Four Points (By Sheraton Lagos hotel) area. The car has an e-tag (pre-paid toll identification) so I just passed the toll gate but it was like they paid and were delayed a bit. But the traffic light stopped me; it wasn’t up to one minute that I was at the traffic light that I saw that they were coming but then, the light passed me so I drove off. I passed in front of Four Points and followed Ajose Adeogun Street. On that street, there is a club that Oga goes to. It was there that they caught up with me and rammed my car by the side and I ran into a culvert and the bumper was damaged.”
What happened next?
“Then, one of them came out of the car and slapped me on my face and said, ‘We are asking you for the last time, where is Toyin Akinosho?’ I told him that I don’t know the person who bears that name. On hearing that, another one said to me: ‘I can waste you o’ but I told him that if he wanted to kill me, he should do so, but I insisted I neither knew Akinosho nor ever heard of his name. Then they left me there and entered their vehicle and left. People that were around there started coming out to assist me drag the car off the culvert.”
Mr. Yinusa, who decided to sleep in the car, apparently to prevent being traced to his boss’ house, after he had encountered the suspected assassins for the second time on Ajose Adeogun Street, added:
“As I was sleeping in the car, around 2am, they came to meet me and used the edge (barrel) of a gun to wake me up. They then collected my phone
and the N7,000 that I had on me and left saying that since I did not want to say the truth, they would go with those.”
The driver added, “It was like they went to check the (Contacts on my phone) whether they would see Oga’s name on my phone but I saved Oga’s number with the name ‘MAE’”
Asked what ‘MAE’ means, Yinusa said “Nothing,” adding, “I just saved it as such because to spell his name, Toyin Akinosho Alfred, is difficult for me.”
The suspected assassins returned around 5a.m. to return Mumuni’s phone.
Following the incident, Mr. Akinosho reported the case at a police station on Lagos Island before fleeing Nigeria, following the advise of friends, associates and family members.
A copy of his petition was also sent to the Inspector General of Police in Abuja as well as the headquarters of the State Security Service.
After spending weeks in hiding, the publisher now wishes to return home safely, his solicitors, Omisore and Co., said in the petition to the Director-General of the SSS, Ita Ekpeyong.
As a result of the incident “our client.for fear of his safety (Toyin Akinosho) ) has not returned to his home as there is likelihood the armed individuals may come back for him to finish whatever terrible act they intended to carry out the day they met and assaulted Mr. Yinusa (his driver),” the solicitors wrote in the petition.
For the weeks that he has been away, the lawyers said, Mr. Akinosho’s business had severely suffered. He therefore sought security protection and the guarantee of his constitutional right to life.
“It goes without saying that assassinations have become rampant and these series of events have necessitated writing of this petition on behalf of our client in order to forestall further criminal actions by those unknown individuals and to prevent harm from being done to our client’s life,” the petition said.