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VOA Report Goes to the Land Where Terror Is Routine: Northern Nigeria

Teachers protesting against Boko Haram in Maiduguri, capital of the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno.
Teachers protesting against Boko Haram in Maiduguri, capital of the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno.

Voice of America brings the battle for power being waged in Nigeria to the mobile phones and desktops of the world with a unique special report. It chronicles the birth and growth of Boko Haram and its brutally violent tactics against Nigerian civilians, military and government. The report also depicts “the military way” tactics being used by some Nigerian soldiers. It shows, in disturbing, gruesome video, soldiers slitting the throats of suspected Boko Haram militants. In the middle of this power play, Nigerians live in fear their towns and villages may be reduced to rubble or they may be next to join the tens of thousands already killed.

The VOA special report, "In the Home of Peace, A Siege of Fear," developed in coordination with VOA’s digital experts, uses a parallax scrolling effect to give audiences a multimedia experience of the everyday horror of life for millions of Nigerians. Few people outside Nigeria have had any idea of what this life is like. That they do now is because of the courage of a reporter in VOA’s Hausa Service, Ibrahim Ahmed, who is from northern Nigeria and went back home for over a month this spring. For Ahmed, it was a harrowing journey. He saw the once peaceful land he remembered had been transformed into a land of killing fields. Yet, at great risk to his life, he traveled through those fields, often alone, and brought back a treasure trove of video, photos and interviews that are the heart of “In the Home of Peace, A Siege of Fear.”

Another VOA reporter, Mike Eckel on VOA’s English webdesk, mined that trove and collaborated with Ahmed to put the package into English. The result is both riveting and heartbreaking.

And also gruesome.

VOA editors debated whether to release the video of Nigerian soldiers carrying out summary executions. It was decided that they would be doing a disservice to VOA’s audience, particularly its audience in Nigeria, if they chose not to. One of the key deciding factors was that if VOA did not do it, no one else would, no one else could, because VOA, with its unique set of resources, has been reporting on this story for years.

In the words of VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch, “very few tragic stories have been told as compellingly.”