Former Niger Delta militants attack journalist union office

A group of armed men attacked the office of the local branch of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the southern city of Warri on August 7, 2012, according to news reports. The men came with kegs of gasoline and threatened to lynch journalists and burn the office if they were not granted media coverage, news reports said.

The men, former insurgents from Nigeria’s oil-rich southern state of Delta, told the journalists they wanted to be interviewed about the government’s non-payment of their monthly allowance that was owed to them, the reports said. The ex-militants had received presidential amnesty in a July 2009 peace deal with the government, which pledged its commitment to rehabilitation and reintegration assistance in exchange for the insurgents surrendering their arms and renouncing militancy, news reports said.

The assailants manhandled Dele Fasan, a journalist with Galaxy Television, after he refused to record the protest, news reports said. Another journalist, Gbenga Ahmed, of Independent Television, whose car was vandalized during the attack, was forced to record the protest, the reports said.

The ex-militants told the journalists they had 30 minutes to begin interviewing them, but started to smash glass doors in the office after realizing that most of the press had fled, according to news reports. Soldiers who arrived at the scene arrested some of the protesters, news reports said.

Local human rights groups condemned the attack on the NUJ office as “barbaric,” and in a public statement, the presidential amnesty office, which oversees the agreement to end hostilities in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, called it “an unprovoked attack on journalists, according to news reports. The amnesty office dismissed the attackers as “imposters,” news reports said.