Godwin Agbroko, editorial board chairman of the private daily This Day, had also served as editor for Newswatch and This Week magazines. He was arrested on two separate occasions in 1995, and again in 1996, when he spent several months in prison under the dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. He was released within weeks of receiving the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in 1997. In December 2006 he was shot dead in his car in Lagos by unknown assailants.  

CASE HISTORY

A father of five, Godwin Agbroko was arrested and held briefly twice in 1995 for his editorial work. On December 17, 1996, three members of Nigeria’s State Security Service apprehended Agbroko at his office, then drove him away in a white Peugeot. His colleagues were unable to determine where Agbroko was being held, or whether he had been charged with any crime. They believed, however, that his arrest was linked to his outspoken criticism of Nigeria’s military. All calls to police and security headquarters were met with flat denials that Agbroko was being detained. Finally, his colleagues learned that he was being held at the Military Intelligence Detention Center in Lagos, though there was no word on whether any charges had been filed against him. His wife managed to see him once, but he was subsequently denied visits from his family and lawyers. Within weeks of receiving PEN America’s Freedom to Write Award, Agbroko was released from prison.

In 2006, Agbroko was found shot to death in his car. The killing came after the presidential primaries for the ruling party, of which Agbroko was critical. However, while police and local media reportedly investigated the killing, the circumstances of his death remain unclear.