The International Press Centre (IPC) denounced the attacks on journalists and other media professionals covering the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections in Lagos, Ogun, and Rivers states yesterday.
The center’s Press Freedom Officer, Melody Lawal, published a statement on Saturday describing the reports of attacks on journalists as deeply troubling.
It asked the security agencies to examine the numerous attacks carefully and guarantee that the culprits be held accountable for their illegal and reprehensible actions.
The statement said that other journalists experienced mob attacks by political thugs who likewise reportedly assaulted INEC personnel with axes and allegedly damaged vote boxes, while others were rough-handled and abused in the sight of a political chieftain.
The statement read: “The International Press Centre (IPC) is deeply troubled by the reported cases of attacks on journalists and other media workers covering the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections in several regions of the country, particularly Lagos, Ogun and Rivers states.”
AIT Reporters and cameramen, including Henrietta Oke, Amarachi Amushie, and Nkiru Nwokedi, were assaulted and stopped from covering elections at various polling units in Eti-Osa, Ifako-Ijaiye, and Amuwo Odofin local government areas by political thugs.
Journalist Nwokedi’s phone was temporarily misplaced before being retrieved with the assistance of Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) members, while Journalist Amushie’s camera was broken and her cameraman was beaten in the sight of a political leader.
The Alert Desk also verified that ARISE NEWS Channel’s team comprising a Reporter, Oba Adeoye, Cameraman, Opeyemi Adenihun and driver, Yusuf Hassan was attacked while covering polling in Elegushi area of Lagos.
“The cameraman, Adenihun, suffered face injuries, while drones and equipment were seized,” according to the news outlet.
“In Ogun State, a News Agency of Nigeria’s reporter, Adejoke Adeleye, was among journalists molested in Itori Odo Area of Abeokuta South Local Government Area where they faced mob attack by political thugs who equally reportedly assaulted INEC officials with axes and allegedly destroyed ballot boxes.\s”
The revelations also include the denial of access to journalists who wanted to capture voting in the polling unit of PDP Governorship candidate in Rivers State by certain “overzealous police officers”.
According to an allegation from Rivers State, officers blocked passage despite journalists’ identification documents.
“IPC strongly condemns these inexcusable attacks, which constitute both a violation of the fundamental rights of the affected journalists and media workers and a major assault on press freedom. “Following the attacks on journalists during the presidential and national Assembly elections on February 25, we had called on the Police, the Political Parties, and all concerned to protect them today. Melody Lawal, IPC’s Press Freedom and Safety Alert Desk Officer, stated in a statement that it is concerning that similar incidents have occurred again.
Lawal tasked the security services with conducting a comprehensive investigation into the numerous attacks and ensuring that the offenders are held accountable for their illegal actions.
The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Nigeria Police yesterday assaulted and harassed journalists covering the polls in the states of Edo and Nasarawa.
While NSCDC brutalised the Head of News for Breeze FM Lafia, Edwin Philip, in Lafia, Nasarawa State, a mobile police officer identified as CSP Isah threatened to arrest journalists performing their legal election monitoring duty along Sapele Road in Benin, Edo State.
Yesterday, when recounting his experiences, Philips stated that NSCDC agents mistreated and harassed him while he was executing his constitutional and legal duties on election day.
Victor Jerry, the Public Relations Officer for the NSCDC Nasarawa State Command, confirmed the attack on journalists in Lafia in his statement yesterday.
In a statement released by its Secretary, Mr. Sunday John, on Saturday, the Nasarawa State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) denounced the attack on the Head of News of Breeze FM Lafia by NSCDC agents.
The statement expressed shock and dismay at the attack on Philip by NSCDC officials when he was covering the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections.
Isah also argued with journalists on Saturday, claiming to be the second-in-command of the state’s Mobile Police Division and questioned why journalists would travel in a convoy during the poll.
In addition, he stated that they should have remained in one location to complete their work instead of roaming around to gather material for their reports, as is customary.
Even when the journalists showed Isah their Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) accreditation tags, he argued that they were doing illegal duties since they lacked a pass and police protection.
When he was informed that journalists could travel freely on voting day due to their profession, he referred to them as “illiterates,” claiming that anyone might claim to be a journalist.
The journalists disapproved of this comment and admonished the mobile police officer who threatened to arrest a Vanguard Reporter, Ozioruva Aliu.
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