James Sowole in Akure
Tosin Ajuwon, a journalist with Sahara Reporters, was assaulted and arrested yesterday by men of the Nigeria Police Force at Ore in Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo state.
Ajuwon was covering the #RevolutionNow protest in Ore City when he was accosted by armed policemen from the Ore Divisional Police Station, who chased away the protesters shortly after the arrest of the Ondo based journalist.
The journalist was arrested alongside a man simply identified as Jelili, who was accused of being among the protesters.
Ajuwon, who spoke to journalists after his release, explained that all effort to explain his identify fell on the deaf ears of the armed policemen.
He said he was treated like a criminal as the fierce looking policemen seized his recording gadget and bundled him into a waiting van.
According to him: “I was covering some group of protesters who were making attempt to block the Benin-Ore Expressway when the policemen stormed the road and chased them away.
“While the chase was going on, one of the officers who was heavily armed came to ask why I was filming the protest and I easily identified myself as a journalist covering the protest.
“He immediately asked who gave me the authority to start covering protest in Ore. I told him I have the constitutional right as a journalist to do so.
“In fact, I have to tell him that the demonstrators also have the lawful right to assembly as granted under section 40 of the constitution so far their actions are peaceful.
“I feel they (policemen) were angered by these statements and they immediately arrested me.
“They collected my phone and bundled me into the Police waiting van for trying to perform my duty as a journalist
“I was manhandled and handcuffed while they dragged me like a criminal. One of them even slapped me repeatedly.
“They drove me to the Ore Area Command with one other guy that was arrested among the demonstrators.
“The policemen made us to write a statement and kept me in custody and interrogated me for several hours.
“It was the Assistant Commissioner of Police in Charge of the Ore command that came to intervene and having found out that I’m a journalist ordered his men to release me at about 4 pm.”