By Emma Emeozor
Ahmade Salkida, a former reporter with the Insider Weekly Magazine, was born a Christian and hail from Biu Local Government Area of former Borno State. He voluntarily converted to Islam in 1997.
In the 90s, he was briefly a Marxist and a free thinker. He relocated to Abuja in early 2000 started working as a journalist the next year. He worked for several publications, including the Insider Weekly, Crystal Magazine, Daily Trust and Blueprint newspaper. He also made editorial contributions to the Africa Renewal, a publication of the United Nations devoted to research and development issues in Africa.
Following threats to his life from forces he described as government agents, he fled the country in 2013 on self-exile. His exclusive and predominant reports on Boko Haram made him a suspected ally of the sect. Consequently, he received grants from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CP), Reporters Without Borders for Press Freedom (RSF), Rory Peck Trust and PEN International in 2012.
In addition to working as a journalist, he engaged himself in writing books, even with only a primary six certificate, as he never went to a university. His link with Boko Haram became known, when in 2006, while working with the New Sentinel, he interviewed the founder of the sect, Mohammed Yusuf. On why he interviewed Yusuf, Salkida said he was eager to tell the world the influence the sect leader was having on thousands of youths in the area. He would later admit his closeness with to Yusuf. Then, he was working with the Daily Trust.
“I was the only journalist he knew very well,” he once said, adding: “Whenever I was free from work, I would attend one of his preaching sessions.”
By 2009, his reports on Boko Haram had made the government of former Borno Governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, very uncomfortable. He was expelled from Maiduguri to Abuja. This was after he reported on the build-up to the Boko Haram crisis of 2009 during which 20 members of the sect were killed. He was the only journalist Yusuf allowed to visit the sect’s enclave and to report on the level of attack by government forces.
Since he went on exile, he has remained critical of the Federal Government, particularly, security agents. In April, 2016, he wrote an article entitled: “Inside Account of How Security Forces Aid Pipeline Vandals and Their Lucrative Trade.”