MRA condemns attack on three photojournalists
Media Rights Agenda (MRA), yesterday, condemned the recent attack on three photojournalists by officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Department of State Service (DSS).
It urged the Federal Government to launch an independent investigation into the matter to ensure perpetrators are held accountable and victims adequately compensated for injuries suffered and equipment destroyed.
Officers of the NSCDC and DSS were reported to have beaten up three photojournalists on January 6, at the headquarters of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in Abuja, where they covered the National Identification Number (NIN) registration, following the ultimatum given by the Federal Government that Nigerians should link their mobile phone numbers to their NINs. The affected photojournalists were Mr. Olu Aremo of the Leadership Newspaper; Mr. Olatunji Obasa of The Punch newspaper; and Mr. Mudashiru Atanda of The Sun Newspaper.
A statement signed by the MRA’s Programme Director, Mr. Ayode Longe, said: “I wonder how covering an exercise ordered by the government could have become an offence that could provoke such an attack on media professionals carrying out their legitimate duties. Photojournalists have a duty and right to cover the exercise to enable both the government and citizens know what is going on and evaluate the success or otherwise of the exercise.
The attack on innocent journalists carrying out their legitimate duties was unwarranted and constituted an unconscionable disregard for the rule of law.
“It is the responsibility of security and law enforcement agencies to protect journalists to enable them to carry out their professional duties without hindrance. It is, therefore, incomprehensible and unacceptable for officials and agents of the same security and law enforcement agencies to assault the very journalists that they are supposed to protect, especially where they have committed no offence.”
He urged the Commandant of the NSCDC and Director of DSS to carry out thorough and independent investigations into these attacks; ensure erring officers are prosecuted and pay the affected journalists adequate compensations for injuries they suffered, traumatic experiences to which they were subjected to as well as for all their professional equipment, destroyed.