On November 9, 2019, a group of people attacked Jimoh Ogirima, a journalist with the privately owned broadcaster Rave Television, in Nigeria’s southern Edo State, and damaged his camera while he filmed a protest, according to the news website Newspad, the Ghana-based press freedom organization Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), and Ogirima, who spoke with CPJ by phone.
Ogirima told CPJ that while he was filming protesters at the central hospital in Sapele Road, a district in the state capital, Benin City, at least 10 people whom the journalist described as local security officials, attacked him from behind, slapping him when he turned to confront them, and destroying his camera. The attackers asked Ogirima why he was filming, but attacked before he could answer, Ogirima said.
Oseji Godwin, a reporter for the privately owned broadcaster Silverbird Television and MFWA, who was also covering the protest, told CPJ that several men hit Ogirima and smashed his camera on the floor, while threatening to open fire if protesters did not disperse.
The attackers were dressed in black shirts with the inscription “vigilante Edo government house,” MFWA reported.
As part of measures introduced in 2018, the Edo state government incorporated vigilante groups into its security apparatus, Premium Times reported at the time.
According to the Newspad report and Ogirima, police officers were present, but did not intervene.
Paul Ohunbamu, a spokesperson for the Edo state government, denied any knowledge of the attackers, according to MFWA’s report.
CPJ’s calls and text messages to Crusoe Osagie, the Edo state governor’s special assistant on media, on November 27, 2019 went unanswered.
Ogirima told CPJ he took his damaged equipment to the police station to file a complaint and that the Edo state police spokesperson, Chidi Nwabuzo, told him to be patient while negotiations were made with the government to replace the damaged equipment.
Ogirima told CPJ on December 19, 2019 that he had not heard anything further from the police or government.
When CPJ called Nwabuzo on December 19, the police spokesperson said he was aware of a complaint by Ogirima but that he had not been briefed on the outcome of police investigations. Nwabuzo told CPJ that he expected Ogirima to contact him to follow up on the case.