Killing Of Journalist: Six Questions Left Unanswered Regarding Tordue Salem’s Death

The Vanguard reporter, Henry Tordue Salem was last seen on October 13, 2021.

 

About a month after he was declared missing, Tordue Henry Salem, a journalist with Vanguard Newspaper, was found dead.

His sudden disappearance had made the headlines for weeks with many posing theories regarding his whereabouts.

Tordue’s corpse was however discovered after 29 days in a hospital morgue; the discovery while bringing a gruesome search to an abrupt halt, stirred many more questions.

In seeking to provide an answer to the first most vital question regarding the journalist’s mysterious disappearance and awful death, the police dug deeper, following all leads possible and this seemed to have paid off.

Within days of discovering the body, police apprehended a commercial cab driver and a shocking confession was made.

The narrative was quite simple; police say it was an unfortunate case of a hit-and-run. In his own words, the driver – Itoro Clement says he was driving late at night and some persons attempted to cross the expressway and one of them got knocked down by his Camry.

When asked why he did not flinch at the incident nor thought it wise to report, Itoro’s reply was simply that he thought those who attempted to cross were mere robbers.

While on the surface its looks like a straight-jacket story, there are many who believe there is more to the tale than meets the eyes.

For those who believe that the confession of the driver and the developments leading to the discovery of Tordue’s body do not sit well, here are 6 questions they believe must be answered before the case and the corpse is laid to rest.

1.How did his phone end up totally unnoticed on the car’s windshield
While making his confession, Itoro Clement, the driver who allegedly hit Tordue said he found the victim’s smashed phone close to the wiper end of his windshield.

Curiously, the driver did not see it on the night of the incident, he found it by morning at the garage where he regularly parks his car. And what he does next is simply toss the phone away, after all, it supposedly belongs to a “robber” he just hit.

Perhaps what was revealed next is more troubling.

2.Who sold the smashed phone?

After the phone was reportedly tossed into the thrash, police say some youngsters found the scrap and sold it. Now the question becomes who are those that sold the phone, who did they sell it to?

How badly smashed was this phone and if it was as bad as the driver portrayed it, how come it still had sale value? Who made the initial test calls from Tordue’s sim? How can we say for sure that those who sold the phone or its parts were acting independently?

3.Who was calling Tordue’s wife and how did he get the contact of other family members?

Within the period he was missing, the Vanguard reporter’s wife got several calls from a person posing as a kidnapper.

The police say he made use of some “bulk SMS service” in Rivers State, but that really says little about how the individual who we now know as Prince Eyeniyi got the contact info of the victim’s wife.

Furthermore, one wonders, what really is the link between this individual and the driver and how can they be linked to the persons who sold or bought Tordue’s shattered phone?

4.Where are the policemen at the checkpoint?

One highly appalling detail provided by Itoro Clement was that just after he hit the journalist, he was stopped by police officers at a checkpoint in Wuse 2, these policemen are said to have told the driver to go report himself.

It is very strange, in that he was already reporting himself, saying he had just hit someone. He had a badly bashed windshield and other dents on his car as proof of his claim.

These officers did not head to the scene of the accident, who knows they might have helped the victim. Why did they not take the driver in for questioning?

5.Unknown body?

Tordue’s corpse was discovered at the Wuse General Hospital where it was labelled “Unknown Body”.

What is shocking here is the fact that 29 days earlier when the victim was brought to the morgue, he had on his person, two bank cards and a valid means of identification.

So, it begs the question, did those in charge not know what bank cards were or could they not read what was on the identity card?

Were they not aware that there was a journalist missing within the metropolis, one whose name had been in the news for 29 days?

How easy is it to say that such an individual was in your possession and no one could step up the leadership ladder as to reach out to the police and members of the deceased’s family?

6.What does the autopsy say?

This is one question that needs to be answered soon enough. There surely have to be wounds that are consistent with being hit at such great speed by a car.

Also, we can determine from the body when the victim died and see if it is consistent with the timeline. Could there be other things that would tell us if truly the victim was knocked down.

Certain marks on other parts of the body may suggest foul play beyond the hit-and-run narrative.

Conclusion

While the efforts of the police so far are highly appreciated, however, there are questions that still need to be answered with respect to Tordue’s death. In line with this thought, the minority caucus of the House of Representatives has urged the police to conduct further investigations into the matter.

Minority leader of the House, Rep Ndudi Elumelu, noted that there were conflicting official security reports on the matter, saying investigations must not be foreclosed.

Police have said investigations are still ongoing as the officers who failed to follow up when they were told of the incident are being questioned.

It is hoped that proper clarifications will be made regarding Tordue’s disappearance and death, as to ensure that all questions are answered for the benefit of all.

‘It Is Very Unfortunate,’ Senate President Lawan Reacts To Death Of Vanguard Reporter

FILE PHOTO: Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, briefing journalists.

 

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, says he is shocked and saddened by the news of the death of a National Assembly correspondent, Tordue Salem of Vanguard newspapers.

The body of Salem was found by the Police on Thursday, November 11, a month after he went missing.

Lawan in a statement signed by his spokesperson, Ola Awoniyi on Friday said, “It is shocking to hear that the journalist had all the while been killed by a hit and run driver in an accident.

“This is a very unfortunate and heart-rending development.”

READ ALSO: Police Arrest Suspected Hit-And-Run Driver Over Death Of Vanguard Journalist

Lawan said the concern of the National Assembly, when the Senate and the House of Representatives passed separate motions over the disappearance of  Salem, was that he was quickly found and reunited hale and hearty with his family and colleagues but unfortunately, he was found dead.

The Senate President sent his condolences to the family of Salem, the management of Vanguard Newspapers, the National Assembly Press Corps, and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) over the loss.

He also prayed to God to comfort all the loved ones of the departed Salem and grant them the fortitude to bear the loss.

Gbajabiamila Mourns Vanguard Reporter, Tordue Salem

A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has expressed sadness over the death of a reporter of the Vanguard newspapers covering the House, Mr. Tordue Salem.

Mr. Salem’s body was found by the police on Thursday, a month after he went missing.

The Speaker said it was more painful that Salem, whom he described as a vibrant and committed journalist, went missing for almost a month before his corpse was discovered at a morgue in Abuja.

READ ALSO: ‘It Is Very Unfortunate,’ Senate President Lawan Reacts To Death Of Vanguard Reporter

Gbajabiamila recalled how Salem distinguished himself as one of the finest journalists that provided covered the activities of the House for many years.

In a statement signed by his spokesperson Lanre Lasisi, Speaker Gbajabiamila sent his condolences to the late Salem’s family, Vanguard newspapers, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), and the House of Representatives Press Corps.

While praying for the repose of the soul of the late journalist, Gbajabiamila prayed God to grant his family and colleagues the fortitude to bear the loss, adding that Salem would be sorely missed.

Reps Minority Caucus Mourns Slain Vanguard Reporter, Demands Further Investigation

File photo of Tordue Salem

 

The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has mourned Tordue Salem, the Vanguard Newspaper correspondent attached to the House of Representatives.

The body of Salem was found by the Police on Thursday, November 11, a month after he went missing.

The lawmakers in a statement signed on Saturday by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, described the news of Salem’s death as shocking and devastating, demanding a further investigation by the police.

“The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives receives with shock and utter devastation, the news of the death of the Vanguard Newspaper correspondent attached to the House of Representatives, Mr. Tordue Salem.

“The news of the reported discovery of the remains of the journalist on Thursday, a month after he went missing, is horrifying and yet another sad commentary on worsening insecurity in our country,” the statement read in part.

The minority caucus said it notes the report by the police that the journalist was knocked down by a hit and run driver, around Mabushi area in Abuja and demands a further investigation by the police to unravel more mysteries concerning Salem’s disappearance and eventual death.

READ ALSO: Police Arrest Suspected Hit-And-Run Driver Over Death Of Vanguard Journalist

“As representatives of the people, we demand that the Police must not foreclose investigations, particularly given conflicting official security reports trailing Mr. Salem’s sudden disappearance and death.

“Our caucus is still trying to come to terms with the conflicting reports as well as how it took a month before a body of a motor accident victim is discovered in a very busy area like Mabushi or any part of the Abuja municipal for that matter,”  the statement added.­­­­

The lawmakers lamented that “it is indeed saddening that our nation will, in this manner, lose such a young, energetic, highly resourceful and experienced journalist, like Mr. Salem, who used his investigative journalism skill towards entrenching democracy and good governance in our country.

“His death is a huge blow to the media and journalism practice in Nigeria.”

The Minority caucus urged the police to leave no stone unturned in addressing all conflicting issues related to the disappearance and death of the journalist.

They also commiserated with the Salem family, particularly, Mrs. Salem, the Vanguard newspapers, the House of Representatives Press Corps, and the entire media industry for the loss.

Police Arrest Suspected Hit-And-Run Driver Over Death Of Vanguard Journalist

Suspected hit and run driver, Itoro Clement was paraded on Friday, November 12, 2021. PHOTOS: Sodiq Adelakun

 

The Police have arrested a commercial driver suspected to be responsible for the death of a Vanguard Journalist, Tordue Salem.

The suspect, a 29-year-old commercial driver, Itoro Clement was paraded on Friday in Abuja.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba said Clement was arrested following an investigation carried out by the Force Intelligence Bureau.

RELATED:

Journalists Storm Police HQ, Protest Over Missing Colleague Salem

Tordue Salem: We Have Traced His Last Contact, Conversation – Police

Vanguard Reporter, Tordue Salem Found Dead After 29 Days Missing

 

He said Clement who was driving a 2004 Model Camry with number plate BWR 243 BK confessed to having hit Tordue at about 10:00 pm on the night of 13th October 2021, around Mabushi area in Abuja but ran away.

While speaking to journalists during the parade, Clement Itoro admitted to have knocked off an unknown pedestrian at about 10:00 pm the same day Tordue Salem went missing.

He however said he did not stop to attend to his victim because he was afraid he could get attacked by armed robbers.

According to Clement, the Mabushi area where the accident took place is known for criminal activities, hence he was afraid he could be attacked.

“I thought it was an armed robber that I knocked down until the following day when I saw a smashed phone on my windscreen. The phone was not working again so I threw it away.

“The place I knocked this person down, is a criminal place everybody knows that place,” he said.

The 29-year-old commercial driver further explained that after driving for some miles, he came across a Police Checkpoint and reported to the officers on duty that he had hit down someone. He said they told him to go to the Wuse Police Station to report himself, but he refused and went straight to Good Friends Garden where he normally parked his car, before proceeding home to his bed.

Salem’s body was found on Thursday, November 11, more than a month after he went missing.

An indigene of Benue State, Salem covers the House of Representatives and was last seen on October 13, 2021, a situation that led to protest and agitation by Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Abuja.

 

How Hit And Run Driver Was Arrested – Police 

The Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba explained to journalists how Clement Itoro was arrested.

He said the detectives from the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) began an investigation into the disappearance of Late Tordue which led them to trace his phone found at Good Friends Garden, Mpape in Abuja.

According to Mr Frank, “when Clement hit Tordue, the victim’s phone, an iPhone fell on the car’s wheel screen. The suspect however disposed of the phone at Good Friends Garden where he usually parked his car. But the phone was picked by some boys working in the garden and some parts of the phone were sold by the boys.”

He however said the boys also tried using the SIM cards for calls, which made it easy for the police to trace the phone.

The Police Spokesman said further investigations led to the eventual arrest of Clement.

He also disclosed that Late Tordue’s corpse was found at about 11:30am on Thursday, 11 November 2021 at the Wuse General Hospital Morgue in Abuja.

He said during a search on the body a Keystone bank debit card, a Union Bank debit card, an ID Card issued by Vanguard Newspaper, an NUJ ID Card, and a temporary ID Card from the National Assembly Media Corp, all bearing the Late journalist’s name were found.

 

More Unanswered Questions?

Journalists who attended the parade however expressed concern about the explanation concerning the incident.

They asked why the management of Wuse General Hospital (where Tordue’s body was found) did not report the incident for long since documents belonging to Late Tordue were on him.

They asked if the Police were going to include the hospital management in the prosecution.

In response, the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba said that the Police will address issues of negligence on the part of the hospital management and even the policemen at the Wuse Checkpoint on the night of the accident after all the facts of the matter have been gathered.

 

 

See more photos from the parade of the suspect below…

 

 

Tordue Salem: We Have Traced His Last Contact, Conversation – Police

Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba briefing journalists on Monday.

 

The Police have revealed the progress made in their investigation into the disappearance of Tordue Salem, a journalist with Vanguard Newspapers.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba who spoke on behalf of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Usman Alkali explained that they have traced the person Salem had contact with last and the last phone conversation before his disappearance.

Mba explained this on Monday when members of NUJ, FCT Council marched to force headquarters in Abuja to express displeasure with the silence of the police on the matter.

“As I speak to you, we have made significant process with the investigation. We were able to trace when he left the National Assembly. We were able to interact with a young lady who spent time with him that night.

“We have the recordings of the last call he made. Also, we were able to speak with six different persons he spoke to that night.

“There are a lot of efforts behind the scene taking place,” he explained.

Mba said the police are very interested in the case and efforts are going on ‘behind the scene.’

He added that the IGP has given a firm instruction that no human or material resource should be spared in the effort at locating and understanding the rationale behind Salem’s disappearance.

While explaining why the police have kept quiet on their investigation, Mba said the silence was deliberate.

He added that he is glad “that the Chairman of NUJ, FCT Council, understood the significance of confidential briefing and because of that request, I would rather do more of confidential briefing.

“The Police intentionally kept quiet on this case. In investigations, it is called ‘Tactical Silence.

“We deliberately kept quiet because when you are working on a sensitive case you want to get to a comfortable altitude before you begin to brief the public.”

The chairman of the Abuja chapter of the NUJ, Emmanuel Ogbeche, while handing over a petition for onward delivery to the IGP, said the incident is of concern to journalists and urged the police to do everything possible to rescue Salem alive.

Journalists Storm Police HQ, Protest Over Missing Colleague Tordue Salem

 

Journalists on Monday stormed the police headquarters in Abuja to protest over the continued disappearance of their colleague Tordue Salem, a journalist with Vanguard Newspapers.

Mr. Salem, who is a native of Tiv, Benue State, covers the House of Representatives.

He was last seen on October 13, 2021.

The NUJ chapter in Abuja had earlier raised an alarm over his sudden disappearance.

They asked the police and DSS to help unravel the mystery surrounding Mr. Salem’s whereabouts.

READ ALSO: NUJ Asks Security Agencies To Locate ‘Missing’ Journalist

“For all us journalists in Abuja, we have been on edge these past few days over the mysterious disappearance of our colleague and friend, Mr. Tordue Salem,” the statement, signed by the union’s Chairman, Emmanuel Ogbeche and Secretary, Ochiaka Ugwu, said.

“It is worrying that an adult will simply vanish into thin air without a trace. This is unacceptable and we urge the police and DSS to rise up to the occasion and provide answers to this troubling situation”.

However,  during Monday’s protest at the police headquarters in Abuja, the Police PRO addressed the crowd, saying efforts are ongoing to locate Mr. Salem, and assured that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Usman Baba is interested in the case and would see it to the end.