Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Media Rights Agenda has called for a transparent and independent investigation of the death of a reporter with Gboah TV, an online channel, Mr. Pelumi Onifade, who was reportedly arrested by officers attached to the Lagos State taskforce while covering the EndSARS protest.
A statement by the Communications Officer for Media Rights Agenda, Mr. Idowu Adewale, yesterday challenged the federal government to unravel the circumstances surrounding the death of the reporter, whose corpse was later found at a mortuary in Ikorodu, Lagos, where his body was deposited.
The 20-year-old reporter was said to be covering the scene of a mob raid on a government facility in the Oko Oba area of Agege Local Government Area for Gboah TV, where he was serving as an intern, when operatives of the taskforce stormed the scene and engaged hoodlums who attempted to loot palliatives at the Ministry of Agriculture store in the abattoir area of the state.
Despite wearing a jacket identifying him as a journalist, he was reportedly arrested and dragged away by men of the taskforce on October 24, 2020. A statement by Gboah TV said the family and the station searched for him for days before they discovered his corpse at the mortuary in Ikorodu.
The late Mr. Onifade was a second year student of the Department of History at the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ogun State, was an intern with Gboah TV.
The statement quoted MRA’s Programme Director, Mr. Ayode Longe as as describing
Onifade’s death as ironic as he was arrested while covering protests that had engulfed the country as a result of police brutality and extra-judicial killings, saying, “This latest incident must not go un-investigated. The federal government must make every effort to establish the circumstances of his death, identify his killers and make them to face the wrath of the law.”
Longe reiterated MRA’s earlier call on the Government to fulfil its international obligations by launching a serious and transparent investigation into all unresolved cases of murders of journalists since the 1986 assassination of the former Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch magazine, Mr. Dele Giwa, and several other journalists whose deaths have not been resolved, including the instant case of Mr. Onifade.
The MRA’s official said the organisation was standing with the Onifade family in demanding, among other things, that the police officer or officers who killed Mr. Onifade must be identified and prosecuted and that pending a full investigation, the officer who led the squad that arrested the young journalist should be held responsible and if he is unable to provide a convincing account of what happened after they left the scene of the arrest and show that Mr. Onifade left his custody alive, should be prosecuted for the killing.
He also called for substantial compensation to the Onifade family for the wrongful killing of their son and a public apology to the family by both the Lagos State Government and Lagos State Police Command.