Nigerian police on January 4, 2018, denied at least 10 journalists access to the public commissioning of a dry port in Nigeria’s northwestern Kaduna state, and then assaulted at least two of the reporters, according to accounts form the two reporters, Enemaku Ojochigbe and Taye Adeni, and the Daily Trust newspaper.
Nigerian police initially told journalists there was not enough seating at the event in which President Muhammadu Buhari was due to attend, Ojochigbe, who works for the privately owned African Independent Television (AIT) network Raypower FM, told CPJ.
Ojochigbe said he tried to explain to the police that the journalists did not require seating, and showed police his media accreditation. The journalist said his efforts to negotiate were unsuccessful.
The Nigerian transportation ministry representative who was leading the group of journalists was also unsuccessful in negotiating their access, despite stressing that they were accredited to cover the event, Adeni, who works for the state-run News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), told CPJ.
“From nowhere an armed police officer [then] started shouting that he will start pushing everyone if we don’t get away from the gate,” said Adeni.
The two journalists told CPJ that police pushed Ojochigbe, causing his head to strike Adeni in the eye. Adeni told CPJ that “both the head of the journalist he [the police officer] pushed and the hit from the officer landed on my face.” The assault caused Adeni’s eye to swell and bleed, the reporter said. She also told CPJ that she recognized the police as members of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps.
The journalists were also threatened with tear gas, according to Ojochigbe and media reports.
Adeni told CPJ that Jimoh Moshood, Nigerian police public relations officer, and Muhammad Baba Busu, the media aide to the inspector-general, contacted her and apologized for the assault.
During the calls, authorities promised to find the officer who pushed Ojochigbe and pay for Adeni’s medical bills. Adeni told CPJ on January 11, 2017, that authorities had not yet told if they had identified the officer, and had not paid her medical expenses.
Upon his return to Abuja, a representative for the inspector general similarly contacted Ojochigbe to apologize and told him that a meeting would be scheduled with the police to discuss the incident, according to Ojochigbe. But as of January 11, 2017, no date or time had been set, he said.
Moshood and Busu did not answer CPJ’s repeated phone calls.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The second paragraph of this case has been updated to reflect that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was due to attend the dry port commissioning.