FULL STATEMENT: IPC demands justice over killings and attacks on journalists 

WPFD: NGE demands unconditional release of journalists in detention

Press Statement
For immediate release, November 2, 2020

The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria has said there should be urgent investigation of all suspected cases of murder and attacks on journalists and diligent prosecution of the alleged perpetrators so as to halt the disturbing trend of impunity for crimes against journalists in Nigeria.

IPC made the call for justice today as journalists, other media professionals and freedom of expression groups mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
IPC said it was unfortunate that Nigeria continues to rank high among countries where press freedom and freedom of expression are under threat stating that the recent database of attacks during the #ENDSARS protest reveals that not less than ten incidents of assault, invasion and brutalization were recorded.

These include:
1. Television Continental (TVC), Lagos: The television station was attacked and partly burnt by hoodlums on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. Journalists and media professionals working in the establishment were also molested by the hoodlums.

2. Channels Television, Lagos: Security personnel attached with the station were assaulted, which led to the temporary halting of broadcast by the station on Wednesday, October 21, 2020.

3. Toyin Yusuf, Reporter, Osun State Broadcasting Corporation: He was attacked alongside with a member of the Nigerian Union of Journalists by some angry youths while covering the protest in Osun.

4. Arise Television, Lagos: A crew from the station were prevented from carrying out their legitimate duty at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, by a group of soldiers on Wednesday, October 21, 2020.

5. The Nation Newspaper, Lagos: the station was set on fire by hoodlums which halted activities in the organization on Wednesday, October 21, 2020.

6. Reporters with Punch Newspaper: Policemen in Lagos State tortured journalists with Punch Newspaper for covering the #End SARS protests.

7. Africa Independent Television (AIT), Benin: The station was set on fire by hoodlums which halted activities in the organization on Wednesday, October 21, 2020.

8. Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC): The station was attacked by hoodlums. The hoodlums destroyed their gate and also built a bonfire in front of the state owned television station on Wednesday, October 21, 2020.

9. Akpokona Omafuaire of Vanguard Newspaper, Delta: He was brutalized by the police, on his way to an official assignment during the curfew imposed by the Delta State Governor on Friday, October 23, 2020.

10. Emmanuel Adeyemi of Sun Newspaper, Kogi: He was hit by a stray bullet and died on the spot on his way to the Nigerian Union of Journalists Press Centre in Lokoja on Monday, October 26, 2020.

Female journalists can apply for $2,000 Journalism Relief Fund

Prior to the #EndSARS protest, IPC through its Journalists’ Safety Alert Desk documented fifty-nine (59) instances of attacks on journalists including unlawful arrests/detention, physical assaults, harassments, threat to life, battery, loss/damage of valuables and gadgets (cameras, phones, midgets, money) within a ten-month period. Some of the cases are:
• Alex Ogbu of The Regent African Time Magazine was shot by policemen and died at FCT Abuja on the 21st of January 2020.
• Olatunji Omirin of Daily Trust Newspaper was unlawfully arrested and detained by the Nigerian Military on the 30th of January 2020, at Maiduguri Borno State.
• Maxwell Nashan of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) was physically assaulted by suspected political thugs at Yola, Adamawa, on the 15th of January 2020.
• Vincent Ake, General Manager of the state-owned Tide Newspaper, in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State was sacked for publishing report on the first case of COVID-19 in Rivers State on 26th of March 2020. His sack was premised on the allegation that he didn’t first get the approval to publish from the Taskforce on Coronavirus set up by the state government.
• Norbert Amede, photojournalist with the Pointer newspapers in Delta State, on April 16, 2020, was manhandled by the police in Ibusa, Oshimili North Local Government Area. He was physically wounded on the face and hospitalized for days.
• On May 19, 2020, Ivy Kanu of TVC news, Chuks Oluigbo of BusinessDay newspaper and 48 other essential workers were detained and at Alausa police station and their vehicles impounded by Policemen. Based on the police officer’s interpretation that of they had flouted the COVID-19 lockdown curfew.
• Barry Agbanigbi of Champion Newspaper was on July 27, 2020 barred from the Delta government state house by the Chief Press Secretary over a published report.
• Benjamin Ekom, Former Treasurer of NUJ Nasarawa State Council was murdered by unknown gunmen at his residence in Washo Village, Nasarawa on the 3rd of August 2020.
• Eyo Charles of Daily Trust Newspaper was on August 20, 2020 verbally assaulted by a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode at a press briefing in Calabar, Cross-River State.
Some of the attacks which were related to elections this year include:
• A mob claiming to be supporters of Godswill Akpabio, a Minister and candidate in the elections held on January 25, 2020, assaulted and destroyed the camera of Godwin Sunday, a television cameraman with the Global Pilot.
• Samson Adenekan of Premium Times and Nathaniel Offel of GeeTV were brutally attacked by thugs and detained for taking pictures and recording videos of irregularities during the Edo State election on 20th September 2020.
• Samuel Ajala, Maxwell Osita, Alamu Dolapo, among others were denied access to the collation centre at Okha Local Government, during the Edo State election on 20th September 2020.

Executive Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, said these were worrisome and unwelcome developments deserving the attention of all stakeholders in the media.

“We are calling for an end to impunity for crimes against journalists in Nigeria. We attach the highest priority to the safety of journalists and other media actors. We oppose any action, legislation, regulation or political pressure that limits freedom of the press. Acts of intimidation and violence against journalists in Nigeria have to end for democracy to survive. Attacks against media institutions and journalists are attacks against democratic rights including the right of the public to know the truth about the way they are governed,” Mr. Arogundade stressed.

IPC is also demanding justice for journalists who have been murdered and attacked in the line of duty. Some of the unresolved murdered cases include
1. Dele Giwa – October 19, 1986
2. Bayo Ohu of The Guardian Newspaper – September 20,2009
3. Nathan S. Dabak & Sunday Gyang Bwede of The Light Bearer – April 24, 2010
4. Zakariya Isa of Nigeria Television Authority – October 22, 2011
5. Enenche Akogwu of Channels Television – January 20, 2012
6. Alex Ogbu of The Regent Africa Time Magazine – January 21, 2020
7. Emmanuel Adeyemi of Sun Newspaper – October 26, 2020

Mr. Arogundade called on the Police authorities to carry out the necessary investigations on these unresolved murder cases or in the alternative publicly disclose what has been done so far towards unraveling the mystery behind the killings.

He also said while the Government is expected to create the enabling environment for journalists to practice without fear, journalists and other media professionals should themselves pay greater attention to their personal safety by keeping abreast with various safety tips for journalists covering dangerous assignments.

Melody Lawal
Program Officer/Safety Desk Officer, IPC