THE Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has called on Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police, to order the arrest and prosecution of policemen, led by Shola Jejeloye, who assaulted, tortured and dehumanised the Guardian newspaper reporter, Eniola Daniel, on Sunday while he was covering the demolition of the shops along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway in Lagos.
The organisation stressed that no democratic government should condone such lawlessness by its law enforcement officials.
In a statement issued on behalf of the organization on Tuesday by John Gbadamosi, its Programme Officer, MRA 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.
“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,” Gbadamosi said.
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 destroy shops along the road when Daniel arrived at the scene a few minutes past 10 am 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 plain clothes 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.
Nigeria police beat me up for doing my job.
This is the first time any of state security agents would manhandle me.
Journalism is not a crime. pic.twitter.com/eRZo7qxG6p
— President Eniola Daniel (@UnlimitedEniola) February 28, 2021
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.”
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.
Gbadamosi said the silence of the police authorities and the Federal Government on the 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.
Assault on Journalist: A worrisome trend
A TOTAL number of 50 journalists were killed globally in 2020, a report published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has shown.
The report which was published on Tuesday is the second part of its (RSF) annual round-up report of the abusive treatment and violence against journalists across the globe also shows that two journalists fell victim to the climate of violence accompanying protests, especially protests against the brutality of police operatives in Nigeria.
It noted that while the number of journalists killed in countries at war continues to fall, more are being murdered in countries, not at war.
RSF noted with concern that 32% of the fatalities are in war-torn countries such as Syria or Yemen or in countries with low or medium-intensity conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq. while 68 percent (more than two thirds) of the fatalities are in countries “at peace,” above all Mexico leading with eight journalists killed, India with four, the Philippines with three and Honduras, three.
It further stated that 84 percent of those that were killed in connection to their work were knowingly targeted and deliberately murdered, as compared to 63% in 2019. While some were murdered in a particularly barbaric manner.