Journalists assaulted, detained in Nigerian court

Police in Lagos, the commercial capital, assaulted at least 10 journalists and confiscated their equipment on April 4, 2012, according to news reports. The journalists were covering a coroner’s inquest into a 2010 traffic accident, the reports said.

Wahab Abdullahi, a journalist for Vanguard Newspapers, told CPJ that he and other reporters were waiting in the corridor outside the courtroom, awaiting the commencement of the inquest, when a court police officer told them to leave and said journalists were not welcome. When the journalists refused to leave, saying they were on official work in a public space, the ensuing argument caught the attention of A.A. Oshoniyi, a court magistrate, who told police officers to arrest the journalists. The officers also confiscated the equipment of Paulinus Odedevi, a camera operator for Channels TV.

Abdullahi told CPJ that the police grabbed him by his pants and when he protested, another slapped him. Adewale Busari, a journalist for Silverbird Television, told CPJ he was punched, kicked, and slapped.

News accounts reported that the journalists were taken to the local police station but released after a few hours. However, when the journalists’ phones and equipment were returned to them, their call logs and audio and video recordings had been deleted, local journalists told CPJ.

Journalists for Democratic Rights, a local press freedom group, condemned the assault.