Group Accuses FG of Encouraging Attacks on Journalists
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has accused the federal government of encouraging attacks on journalists and media organisations in Nigeria.
In a statement signed by its Communications Officer, Mr Idowu Adewale, the group claimed that the attacks on media practitioners were mostly executed by security agents or other government officials and hoodlums.
The organisation observed that, at least, seven media professionals and a media organization had fallen victim to various forms of attacks in recent times.
The statement stressed that the central government’s failure to act on bringing justice to the perpetrators of such crimes was a direct cause of the heightened attacks against the media.
MRA stated, “The growing spate of attacks against the media is alarming and having a negative impact on freedom of expression as it is stifling the media environment, thereby impeding the freedom and ability of journalists and media organizations to carry out their professional duties.
“It should be a matter of embarrassment to the federal government that despite the extremely alarming rate of attacks and crimes against journalists, it cannot point to a single instance over the years, since the inception of this administration, where the perpetrators of such attacks have been arrested, prosecuted and punished.
“The government’s inaction and apparent refusal to reprimand its officials, who are guilty of such conduct, is clearly being interpreted as an open season for anyone who is so inclined to attack journalists.”
MRA further highlighted some of the recent attacks against journalists, which include, “Mr Oriyomi Hamzat, a journalist, Managing Director and founder of Agidigbo 88.7FM in Ibadan, Oyo State, who was arrested on May 26, 2022, by officers of the Force Intelligence Bureau of the Nigeria Police in Ibadan and taken to Abuja, after he honoured an invitation by the Oyo State Intelligence Bureau of the Nigeria Police over a complaint to the police by a suspect in a murder trial, which the radio station had consistently covered;
“Mr Yinka Adeniran, The Nation newspaper’s reporter attached to the Oyo State Governor’s Office in Ibadan, who was on May 25, 2022, beaten up and had teargas sprayed directly into his eyes, nose and mouth by a police officer while he was covering the governorship primaries of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ibadan;
“An attack by gunmen on May 30, 2022, on the premises of the state-owned Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) in Awada, Onitsha, during which they brutalised and inflicted injuries on some of the staff, and burnt down one of the station’s buildings, a company bus and another vehicle belonging to a staff of the station;
“The shooting by an operative of the Osun State Command of the Nigeria Police on May 31, 2022, of the Osun State correspondent of The Nation newspaper, Mr Toba Adedeji, while he was covering a students’ protest in Osogbo over the alleged extrajudicial killing of Mr Abiola Afolabi, who was killed by policemen on April 4, 2022;
“The arrest of a reporter, Mr Fatai Akanji, and deputy editor, Mr Uthman Ismail, both with the Osun Defender newspaper, by a policeman attached to the Osun State Command of the Nigeria Police on May 31, 2022, for undisclosed reasons.”
The organisation then called on the federal government to institute measures to apprehend the perpetrators of these attacks and crimes against journalists and bring them to justice, as well as forestall future occurrences, especially as the 2023 general elections draw nearer.