The Guardian reporter assaulted by Lagos task force officials
It was a brazen display of highhandedness and brutality when some policemen and officials of the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences Unit raided some motorists and passers-by at the Cele Bus Stop, along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway yesterday morning.
The operatives, numbering about seven, apprehended and manhandled an unidentified young man alleged to have given a tip-off to commercial bus drivers and motorcycle riders while the patrol team was approaching the bus stop.
Though the informant resisted arrest, his fierce refusal to enter the Black Maria earned him a deep cut on his palm and several bruises as he bled profusely while being dragged into the vehicle.
However, a female journalist, who was at the scene and taking some pictures of the incident, was not spared as she was also hounded by the fierce-looking men, who immediately snatched her mobile phone and ordered her to enter the Black Maria, despite properly identifying herself as a journalist with The Guardian and was, therefore, carrying out her essential duties.
The officer, who led the team, a tall and fair complexioned man, yelled back at the reporter with indignation and threatened to take her to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and also sue her for taking shots of their activities.
After a few minutes, the Black Maria zoomed off with its three occupants – the journalist, the informant and a commercial bus driver, who was arrested for parking illegally on the expressway.
Midway into the unknown destination, the vehicle stopped. Three officers came out, unlocked the vehicle and ordered the journalist to alight. After some arguments back and forth, she was ordered back into the Black Maria to stay in a secluded part of the van and separated from the two other victims.
The journey commenced again. Shortly after, the leader of the team said: “O ya, come down. I have changed my mind because as I look at you, I remember I have a wife at home. I don’t like infringing on people’s rights.”
He then asked the journalist to join him in the Hilux van in which he was the only occupant with the driver. Then, the question and answer session began. “Why were you taking those shots? Did you know we could take you to court? The governor is aware we are on this mission? You want to write bad report against us? Why didn’t you ask what the man did before taking the photographs?”
Afterwards, he compelled the reporter to delete the photographs after which he collected the phone to verify that all the shots were deleted. Then, he instructed the driver to stop at Mile Two and to the journalist, he said: “Madam, you can come down here, we are sorry for the stress we caused you.” The vehicle zoomed off.