The International Press Centre (IPC) yesterday lamented the increasing spate of attacks, which it said, journalists had suffered in the hands of the officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS)and Nigeria Police among others.
The IPC, Nigeria’s foremost media capacity development organisation, called on the authorities of the custom and police to put an end to incessant harassment of journalists by their operatives.
The call was contained in a statement by IPC’s Executive Director, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, yesterday, noting that Nigeria “is concerned that journalists are still being subjected to various forms of attacks, mostly in the course of their professional duty.”
As indicated in a statement he personally signed, Arogundade said the alleged perpetrators of the documented incidents include political thugs, the NCS, Nigeria Police and armed robbers among others.
He said 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.”
He reeled out the affected journalists to include Julius Osahon of The Guardian Newspapers, who according to him, was “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.”
He also cited the case of Michael Sholeye of Petals FM, whom he said, was reportedly “assaulted at a Mobil Filling Station at Oluyole Ibadan while covering an attempt by drivers of MTN to jump queue.”
He mentioned the attack on Toyin Ibrahim of Television Continental (TVC), who he said was “brutalised 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.”
Among others, he referred to the abuse of Yomi Olomofe of Badagry Prime, who the executive director noted, was 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.”
He therefore called on both the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigeria Police “to halt Olomofe’s harassment and guarantee his safety. The law court remains an open avenue for the Nigeria Custom Service to state its case being a defendant in the case instituted by the Lagos NUJ.
He also sought 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 in Section 22 gives the media the weighty responsibility of monitoring governance and holding the government accountable to the people.”