MRA decries attacks on Journalists,seeks justice

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By Dada Ahmed in Lokoja.

Media Rights Agenda (MRA),an NGO,has called on the Federal Government to put measures in place to apprehend and bring the perpetrators of attacks and crimes against journalists, in Nigeria, to justice and forestall future occurrences, especially as the 2023 general elections are drawing nearer.

MRA’s Communications Officer, Mr. Idowu Adewale, made the call on Monday in a statement he signed in Lagos and made available a copy to The Reporters.

He expressed concern that, “The growing spate of attacks against the media is alarming and having a negative impact on freedom of expression.

“It is stifling the media environment, thereby, impeding the freedom and ability of journalists and media organisations to carry out their professional duties.”

MRA Observed that at least, seven media professionals and a media organization had fallen victim to various forms of attacks in about one week, adding that one journalist was shot and injured by policemen in Lagos.

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Other instances of attack against Journalists in the country,he cited are:

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.

He disclosed that Hamzat was 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.

An attack by gunmen on May 30, 2022 on the premises of the state-owned Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) in Awka, Onitsha, during which they brutalised and inflicted injuries on some of the staff, burnt down one of the station’s buildings as well as a company bus and another vehicle belonging to a staff of the station.

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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.

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, among others.

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Adewale noted that the perpetrators of recent attacks against the media include law enforcement and security agencies, hoodlums, political thugs, separatist groups, criminal elements, among others.

According to him, the Federal Government has obligations under various regional and international instruments to ensure the safety of journalists and bring perpetrators of attacks against journalists to justice.

He stressed the need for the Federal Government to stem such crimes against journalists, to stop heightened attacks against the media and its practitioners as well as discourage more of such attacks and fulfilling its treaty obligations.

Edited by Dada Ahmed.

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