MRA condemns police raid on Peoples Gazette Newspaper

A CIVIL society organisation, Media Rights Agenda (MRA), has condemned the raid on the Abuja head office of Peoples Gazette Newspaper by operatives of the Nigeria Police Force.

The MRA expressed concern that the police have become a tool in the hands of politicians in a statement released by Programme Director Ayode Longe on Monday.

The raid led to the arrest of an Assistant Managing Editor, John Adenekan and four other staff of the newspaper.

The police stormed the newspaper’s head office on July 22 over a report in which a former Chief of Army Staff Tukur Burutai was named.

The ICIR gathered that the five arrested journalists were released at about 6.00pm on the same day.

However, reacting to the development, the MRA accused the Nigerian Police Force of harassing journalists and media organisations.

The MRA stressed that it was not the responsibility of the police to protect the reputation of public officials.

Parts of the statement read: “We have observed in recent months a pattern of policemen raiding media organisations, arresting and detaining their staff or intimidating media professionals in various other ways under the guise of investigating complaints made against such media organisations by powerful individuals or entities.




     

     

    “We condemn this trend and state emphatically that it is not the duty of the police to protect the reputations of individuals or organisations or shield them from scrutiny, especially when the Police are failing woefully in the performance of their primary function of ensuring the safety and security of all citizens.”

    The MRA noted that while the police have virtually abdicated the duty to fight crime, frequently claiming a lack of resources for the dereliction, they appear to have no difficulty in finding the resources to deploy troops to media houses to harass and intimidate journalists and other media workers at the behest of the rich and powerful who are uncomfortable with the media beaming the searchlight on them and their activities.

    “We therefore call on the Federal Government to immediately put an end to this practice,” the statement added.

    The MRA advised the law enforcement agencies and officials to focus their attention on addressing the more pressing state of insecurity in the country instead of chasing shadows.

    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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