Coalition condemns attack on ICIR journalist

THE Coalition of Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has condemned the attack on an International Centre for Investigative Reporting’s (ICIR) journalist Sinafi Omanga by a mob led by a man in military uniform.

In a statement released on Tuesday, April 4, the Coalition said attacks on journalists pose serious threats to press freedom and democracy in Nigeria.

The journalist was attacked by a mob for about two hours while trying to record an incident of jungle justice against two men accused of stealing a mobile phone.

The attack was led by a man and a woman who identified themselves as soldiers in the Nigerian Army, with the man wearing an army uniform. Omanga was physically assaulted, threatened with death, and forced to pay N4,000 into a third party’s account before his phone was returned to him.

Reacting to the development, the Coalition stressed that journalists should be able to do their job without fear of arrack.

“The CWPPF is deeply concerned about this attack on Omanga and the implications it has for press freedom in Nigeria. Journalists must be able to carry out their professional duties of reporting on issues of public interest without fear of violence or reprisals and the government has an obligation to protect them,” the statement said.

The Coalition called on the Nigerian government to take immediate action to investigate this incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.

“We also urge the government to take steps to ensure the safety and protection of journalists in the country, as attacks on journalists are becoming all too common and are a threat to press freedom and democracy,” the Coalition added.

The Coalition, in the same vein, pledged solidarity to Omanga and all journalists who are risking their lives to report the truth and hold those in power accountable, adding that it will continue to advocate for press freedom and the protection of whistleblowers in Nigeria and around the world.

The ICIR had reported how Sinafi Omanga was attacked by a mob in Abuja on Thursday, March 30.

The attack which lasted for about two hours caused bodily harm to the journalist and also led to damage of his spectacles.

According to the report, the horror happened at Mombasa Street, Wuse Zone 5, in the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) District of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja when Omanga picked up his phone to record an incident of jungle justice.






     

     

    Narrating his ordeal, Omanga, a co-host of The ICIR’s Eye On The Street, a weekly vox-pop programme, said two men who dressed as military personnel were part of the mob that attacked him.

    “One of those who identified themselves as soldiers wore an Army uniform though I couldn’t get his name.

    “They tortured me mercilessly, which caused parts of my head to swell up after threatening severally to kill me,” he said, adding that a member of the mob, the tallest and most brutal of them that others called Dogo, was bent on hitting him with a big rod that could have ended his life.

    “He told me I was lucky there was no broken bottle nearby,” he said.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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