Arbitrary arrest of Daily Trust photojournalist: Perpetrators must be identified and punished

The Media Foundation for West Africa deplores the arbitrary police arrest of Benedict Uwalaka, a photojournalist with Daily Trust, and urges the authorities in Nigeria to identify and punish the perpetrator.

 Uwalaka was on April 17, 2023, arrested while he was covering a protest by members of aviation union at the domestic terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) in Lagos. The Police officer held him and dragged him away.  The journalist’s camera got damaged in the violent arrest, according to a report by the Daily Trust and the journalist who spoke to the MFWA in a video call. The newspaper report said Uwalaka was kept at MMA Domestic Airport Division of the Police for more than an hour.

According to Uwalaka, the police officer, whom he could not identify, only said he had been arrested without specifying his offense. The journalist added that the police officer pretended to be checking on something outside and went away, abandoning him at the police station.

“The police woman he handed me to said he was not from the unit and she did not know him, so she let me go,” Uwalaka said.

This is a clear case of wanton abuse of police powers which must not go unpunished. The MFWA therefore urges the police in Lagos to investigate the incident and identify the abusive police officer for disciplinary action. The police authorities should also compensate the photojournalist for the damage to his camera which he repaired at his own cost.

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