The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos, Nigeria is concerned that journalists in Nigeria are still being subjected to various forms of attacks, mostly in the course of their professional duty.
The outcome of an on-going monitoring of safety of journalists being undertaken by IPC with the support of the Open Society Foundation shows that at least four journalists have been reported to have suffered one form of attack or the other within the past couple of weeks.
The alleged perpetrators of the documented incidents include political thugs, the Nigeria Customs Service, armed robbers, among others.
The affected journalists are:
Julius Osahon of The Guardian Newspapers who was reportedly “held hostage and aggressively addressed by political thugs at Yenagoa (Bayelsa State), while covering the protest against non-payment of five months’ pension arrears by pensioners”;
Michael Sholeye of Petals FM who was reportedly “assaulted at a Mobil Filling Station at Oluyole, Ibadan while covering an attempt by drivers of MTN Telecommunications company to jump queue’;
Toyin Ibrahim of Television Continental (TVC) who was reportedly “brutalized by suspected ‘One Chance’ robbers on her way home from work after boarding a commercial mini-bus close to Ketu Bridge heading to Berger-Magbo area at 5:30a.m.”; and
Yomi Olomofe of Badagry Prime who was reportedly detained by men of the Nigeria Police, “after men he had accused of severely beating him alleged he had assaulted and attempted to extort money from them.”
The case of Yomi Olomofe is particularly worrisome because he has already instituted a legal action against the Nigeria Customs Service at Badagry whose men he claimed physically molested him while investigating a story at the premises of the NCS, Seme Border Post.
His latest ordeal is obviously linked to the fact that he is seeking judicial redress through the Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists over the alleged assault by some Customs men.
IPC hereby calls on both the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigeria Police to halt the harassment of Mr. Olomofe and guarantee his safety. The law court remains an open avenue for the Nigeria Customs Service to state its case being a defendant in the case instituted by the Lagos NUJ.
IPC also calls for an end to all forms of assault and intimidation of journalists given the fact that they have crucial role to play in the consolidation and sustenance of democracy as the watchdog of the society.
It is worth reiterating that the Nigerian constitution in Section 22 gives the media the weighty responsibility of monitoring governance and holding the government accountable to the people.