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MRA rejects SSS-proposed investigation into assault on photojournalist

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The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has expressed lack of confidence in the State Security Service (SSS)’s proposed investigation into the reported assault on Vanguard newspaper photojournalist Oluwagbemiga Olamikan by officials of the agency.

In a telephone interview with The ICIR, Executive Director of the MRA Edetean Ojo said an impartial body was better placed to investigate the issue as the SSS were more preoccupied with defending its image rather than establishing the truth.

“Once an organization has a vested interest in an issue, it cannot be trusted to carry out an independent and impartial investigation.

“We have a lot of instances where the DSS has assaulted and violated the rights of journalists. So for them to say that DSS cannot violate the rights of journalists, I think it’s just lies in the face of reality,” he said.

Also, a statement released on Wednesday by the MRA described the proposed investigation as futile and called for an independent inquisition into the attack.

Legal Officer to MRA Obioma Adesewa Okonkwo said in the statement that the intention of the SSS to investigate itself was ‘offensive to the concept of justice and fairness.’

“If anyone has any doubt about the inherent lack of credibility of such a process, the person needs to look no further than the statement made by Dr. Peter Afunanya, the Public Relations Officer of the DSS, on August 3 in announcing the plan by the security agency to conduct an investigation and even before any investigation has started, that the DSS is a responsible security organisation with good working relationship with the media and so could not have assaulted journalists,” it read.

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She said the agency already seemed to have concluded before the investigation and called on the Federal Government to set up an independent inquiry into the reported assault and other attacks against journalists.

“Ms Okonkwo called on the Federal Government to live up to its obligations freely entered into by Nigeria at the levels of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations by launching an independent and impartial investigation into the reported assault on Mr. Olamikan as well as other attacks against journalists and other media practitioners, and ensuring that the perpetrators in all the cases are prosecuted and punished,” it read.

She noted that this would be a step in the right direction for the government in resolving the crimes against journalists and media persons “for which no single person has ever been prosecuted in Nigeria.”

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