JANUARY 4, 2005
Posted January 18, 2005
Segun Jacob Olatunji, Nigerian Tribune
Yomi Odunuga, Punch
Ibrahim Samaila, Punch
Francis Ojo, Daily Champion
Kennedy Egbonodje, Daily Trust
Akin Osimolade, Tell
Sunday Adah, Tell
Gbenga Abiodun, Daily Independent
Abayomi Fayese, The Guardian
Monday Emoni, The Comet
Innocent Okafor, ThisDay
George Edemevughe, Channels Television
Police acting as security at a meeting of the National Executive Council of Nigeria’s ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the capital, Abuja, assaulted at least 10 journalists covering the meeting. According to local news reports, police attacked the journalists with batons and gun butts when they moved forward to photograph Chris Ngige, the embattled governor of southern Anambra State.
Olatunji, a reporter for the private daily Nigerian Tribune, was beaten unconscious, and had to be hospitalized following the attack. Other targeted journalists included Odunuga, Abuja bureau chief of the private daily Punch; Samaila, a photographer for Punch; Ojo, a photographer for the private Daily Champion; Egbonodje, of the private Daily Trust; Osimolade and Adah, of the private weekly magazine Tell; Abiodun, a photographer for the private Daily Independent; Fayese, a photographer for the private daily Guardian; and Emoni, a photographer for the private daily Comet.
Several of the journalists’ cameras were damaged, including those belonging to Okafor, a photographer working for the private daily ThisDay, and Edemevughe, a cameraman for the privately-owned Channels Television, according to the Lagos-based press freedom organization Media Rights Agenda (MRA).
Police Commissioner Lawrence Alobi, who oversaw police security at the PDP meeting, said that the journalists’ movements had threatened security at the event, The Guardian reported. Police claimed they acted on the orders of PDP officials, MRA reported.
Police spokesman Chis Olakpe apologized for the attacks and said that they would be thoroughly investigated, local newspapers reported. The Nigerian Union of Journalists threatened legal action against those responsible for the attacks.
The PDP meeting was called in response to ongoing insecurity in Anambra State caused by fighting between supporters of Gov. Ngige and his rival and former mentor, businessman Chris Uba. Both are PDP members but were suspended from the party during the January meeting. During violent riots in November that were sparked by the feud, armed vandals ransacked and set fire to broadcasters operated by the state-run Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS).