THE Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has on Monday issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Nigeria Police Force to investigate the attack and detention of journalists by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
MRA through an official statement gave the ultimatum to the police authorities condemning the invasion of the SARS operatives on the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretariat in Adamawa state on Tuesday, April 2.
Ayode Longe, MRA’s programme director, explained that the attack occurred at about 6.28 pm on April 2, the Officer in Charge of SARS in Adamawa State reportedly went to the state secretariat of the NUJ where he met reporters in the process of filing news reports to their different media organizations, using the internet services at the press centre due to the closure of business centres around the city.
Longe added that a while after the journalists got to the press centre, the SARS officers made phone calls after which six Toyota Hilux vans filled with heavily armed police operatives invaded the press centre and beat up journalists, forcing journalists all 12 of them into the vehicles including the state chairman of the NUJ, Mr. Ishaku Dedan.
According to Longe, the journalists were released after two hours in custody on the orders of the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Audu Adamu Madaki, who also directed the police officers involved in the arrest to apologize to the NUJ within three days.
“By failing to take any punitive or disciplinary action against the police officers involved in the outrage, the Police authorities have ensured impunity for crimes against journalists in breach of Nigeria’s international commitments and obligations, a situation which is bound to encourage similar action in future as it sends a message to policemen everywhere that there will never be consequences for them for such unacceptable behaviou,” Longe said.
On the ultimatum, MRA said if it elapses and the Nigeria Police fail to arrest and prosecute the SARS operatives, the organisation would issue a formal.report to the United Nations Secretary General and request him to bring the matter to the attention of the UN General Assembly so that appropriate action can be taken against Nigeria for crimes against journalists in violation of several UN instruments.
However, he called on the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to restore discipline within the Force, saying the constant brutalization of journalists and other innocent citizens with impunity by the police was no longer acceptable.