An attendant dispenses fuel into a vehicle's tank at a fuel station in the Maryland district of Lagos, on September 8, 2020. A journalist covering a protest against fuel tariff increases was beaten by police in the district. (AFP/Pius Utomi Ekpei)

Nigerian photojournalist injured by police while covering protests

On October 1, 2020, Olukayode Jaiyeola, a photojournalist with the privately-owned PUNCH newspaper, was beaten by a police officer while covering a protest against an increase in fuel and electricity tariffs in Maryland, a town in Nigeria’s southwestern Lagos state, according to the journalist who spoke with CPJ via phone, and reports by PUNCH and Media Foundation for West Africa a Ghana-based press freedom organization.

Jaiyeola told CPJ that the attack occurred after he witnessed police “harassing” a journalist colleague, Deiji Lambo, by preventing him from leaving the protest area as they were also stopping protesters from exiting. He said he approached the officers to tell them that Lambo was a member of the press. Jaiyeola said that an officer, whom he identified as Innocent Adadu by the name on his uniform, then hit him in the back of his head with a baton. Jaiyeola told CPJ he fell to the ground, saw blood coming from his head, and almost lost consciousness. 

Adadu had tried to flee the scene but was stopped by other journalists who insisted he take responsibility for the attack, Jaiyeola told CPJ. Jaiyeola said he managed to stand up and get into a police van, which Adadu and other officers drove to a nearby hospital where the journalist received stitches on his head and painkillers via injection. 

According to Jaiyeola and PUNCH, the Lagos State police commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu, arrived at the hospital shortly after Jaiyeola received treatment, paid his medical bill, and assured him that Adadu would be arrested.

A spokesperson for the Lagos Police command, Olumiyiwa Adejobi, told CPJ by messaging app on October 8 that Adadu was put on trial in an internal police court for the assault. He told CPJ that the police court process has not yet concluded. 

Jaiyeola told CPJ that Odumosu asked him to report to the police station to file a statement about the incident, but the journalist said his head injury and his workload had prevented him from doing so as of mid-October.