MRA, IPC Deplore Assault on Journalist, Call for Prosecution of Culprits

MRA, IPC Deplore Assault on Journalist, Call for Prosecution of Culprits

…Ask IGP to Arrest Offending Policemen …Say FG, Police Authorities Have Failed to Hold Officers Accountable …Attacks Against Journalists Dangerous to Our Democracy, Threat to Press Freedom. Two leading media advocacy groups, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the International Press Centre (IPC) have slammed harassment, assault and torture of The Guardian reporter, Eniola Daniel by

…Ask IGP to Arrest Offending Policemen

…Say FG, Police Authorities Have Failed to Hold Officers Accountable

…Attacks Against Journalists Dangerous to Our Democracy, Threat to Press Freedom.

Two leading media advocacy groups, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the International Press Centre (IPC) have slammed harassment, assault and torture of The Guardian reporter, Eniola Daniel by policemen at the weekend, calling on the Inspector General of police, Mr Mohammed Adamu to order the arrest and prosecute of those involved.

They also maintained that these spate of attacks against journalists is not only dangerous to our democracy but constitutes a threat to press freedom.

The policemen led by Mr. Shola Jejeloye, assaulted, tortured and dehumanize the reporter, on Sunday while he was covering the demolition of the shops along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway in Lagos.

The organizations stressed that no democratic government should condone such lawlessness by its law enforcement officials.

In a statement issued by MRA’s Programme officer, Mr. John Gbadamosi, the organisation condemned the recent wave of attacks on journalists in the country perpetrated by police officers, saying the consistent failure of Police authorities and the Federal Government to hold such Police personnel accountable was evidently responsible for the noticeable spike in such cases.

Mr. Gbadamosi said: “If Police authorities are unable to discipline their men and hold them accountable when they abuse the rights of citizens and violate the law, it means that they really have no interest in enforcing the Law and cannot pretend to be doing so.  If they have no regard for the Law, then they are no better than a band of criminals backed by the State and paid from public resources.  They can have no legitimacy whatever with the citizens that they are supposed to serve.”

The operatives from the Lagos State Police Command were reported to have gathered at the Ladipo Auto Spare Parts Market along the Apapa-Oshodi expressway in the early hours of Sunday morning to remove shops along the road when Mr. Daniel arrived at the scene a few minutes past 10am to find the policemen burning tyres as they destroyed shops along the road.

The journalist started filming the raging fire set on the highway when less than three minutes later, according to him, a man in plainclothes suddenly approached him and slapped him from behind continuously with other security men carrying guns running to support his assailant. The policemen reportedly punched the reporter, smashed his mobile phone and dragged him into the “Black Maria” vehicle stationed at the scene.

The journalist said although he brought out his identity card and showed it to the policemen to identify himself as a reporter with The Guardian newspaper, they ignored it and continued beating him with one of them calling him “a bastard.”

Mr. Jejeloye later ordered the policemen to release him upon which his smashed phone was returned to him with instructions that all the pictures he took at the scene should be deleted.

Mr. Gbadamosi said the silence of the Police authorities and the Federal Government more than 48 hours after the incident is clear evidence of their tolerance for this sort of barbaric behaviour by officials who are supposed to uphold and enforce the law, which is apparently what has resulted in law enforcement officials frequently acting in such unlawful manner with impunity.

While frowning at the action of the policemen, the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria says it “totally condemns police brutality” against Eniola Daniel, while performing his duty at Apapa-Oshodi, Lagos on Sunday,

Information of the Police unwarranted brutality collated by  the IPC Journalist Safety Alert Desk, describes the inhumane treatment of the Nigeria Police Force, who physically and mentally assaulted Eniola, while covering the activities of a government Taskforce at Apapa-Oshodi expressway in the early hours of Sunday.

Executive Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade said, “This incessant action or excessive use of force against journalists and civilians is dangerous to our democracy and a major threat to press freedom. Such acts of brutality also violate the fundamental human rights of the journalist.

“Mr.  Eniola Daniel’s personal belongings and work tools were destroyed and vandalized during the unfortunate incident.

“We urge the men of the Nigerian Police Force to be mindful of events around the world and not continually create an environment where journalists will be afraid to work and discharge their duties effectively and efficiently.”

IPC therefore calls on the authorities at the Nigeria Police Force to take adequate and swift measures to bring to book those who violated the journalist while putting in place machinery to compensate Eniola Daniel for this inhumane treatment.

“We also call on the Nigeria Police Force to step up the training of its officers to be more respectful and courteous while discharging their duties. They should be reminded constantly that the primary responsibility of the Police is the protection of citizens including journalists and every other civilian, Arogundade said..

 

 

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