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MRA tasks IGP on alleged brutalisation of journalists

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Lagos NUJ seeks FG’s support for media practitioners

The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has charged the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu to restore discipline in the force, saying officers’ constant resort to brutalisation of journalists and other innocent citizens is no longer acceptable.

The group accused Police authorities in Adamawa State of condoning and encouraging crimes against journalists following failure of the State Police Command to arrest and prosecute men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) who invaded the State secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Jimeta on April 2, 2020.

They allegedly brutalised no fewer than 12 journalists, who were illegally arrested and detained at the SARS detention facility.In a statement issued by MRA Communications Officer, Idowu Adewale, the group gave Police authorities 14 days within which to arrest and initiate criminal proceedings against the SARS agents involved in the incident.

It insisted that if the Police authorities failed to do so, the organisation would issue a formal report to the United Nations Secretary General and request him to bring the matter to the attention of the UN General Assembly so that appropriate action could be taken against Nigeria for crimes against journalists in violation of several UN instruments.

Also, MRA’s Programme Director, Ayode Longe, noted that about 6.28pm on April 2, 2020, Officer in Charge of SARS in Adamawa State went to the state secretariat of the NUJ where he met reporters filing news reports to their different media organizations, using the internet facilities at the press centre due to closure of business centres in the city.

“Shortly after arriving at the press centre, the SARS officer started making phone calls and a few minutes later, six Toyota Hilux vans filled with heavily armed police operatives invaded the centre and started beating and forcing journalists into the vehicles.”

“In all, 12 journalists, including the state chairman of the NUJ, Ishaku Dedan, and 11 other journalists were taken to SARS’ detention facility where they were detained.

“The journalists were, however, released after two hours in custody on the orders of the State Commissioner of Police (CP), Audu Adamu Madaki, who also directed the police officers who made the arrests to apologise to the NUJ within three days,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Chairman, Lagos State Council of NUJ, Dr. Qasim Akinreti has asked the Federal Government to support journalists, who are at the forefront providing information to the masses in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.

Akinreti made the appeal yesterday when he visited Rutam House, headquarters of The Guardian in Lagos.He said it was only fair for government to render financial support to journalists at this trying time, as it has done to critical stakeholders in the country.

“We are going around to identify and solidarise with our members across the state for keeping the information machinery alive about the pandemic. The Council is very proud of the performance of our colleagues in various media outfits in the state so far since the country began to tackle the global threat to human existence.

“It is on the strength of what journalists have done so far that I would like to call on the Federal Government to extend its stimulus package to us in Lagos State,” he said


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