The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) condemns the shooting of three journalists in Nigeria at a political party rally in Ikeja, Lagos, and calls for thorough investigations and justice for the victims.
The three, Emmanuel Oladesu, group political editor of The Nation newspaper, Temitope Ogunbanke, a correspondent of News Telegraph and Abiodun Yusuf, a cameraman of Ibile Television, were shot while covering a rally organised to market Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the governorship of Lagos State, on January 8, 2019.
The MFWA’s correspondent in Nigeria reported that the journalists were caught in a crossfire after a gunfight broke out between suspected rival groups of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) at some point during the rally.
The News Editor of The Nation confirmed to MFWA’s partner organisation in Nigeria, International Press Centre (IPC), that the newspaper’s political editor, Emmanuel Oladesu, was critically injured and was receiving treatment in a hospital. His condition is however said to be stable.
In a statement signed by its Director, Lanre Arogundade, IPC condemned the attack on the journalists and called for a probe to identify and punish the culprits. The IPC also reminded all political parties of their obligation under the Nigerian Media Code of Election to ensure the safety of journalists covering their activities.
The MFWA is equally concerned about the attack on the journalists, especially during this critical electioneering period. This is not the first time such an incident has occurred at a political rally in Nigeria. On February 16, 2015, Charles Erukaa, a journalist with the privately-owned Channels Television in Nigeria, was stabbed in the neck by an unknown person while covering a rally by the same APC party at Okrika, Rivers State.
The MFWA urges the Nigerian Police Force to as, a matter of urgency, investigate the matter and ensure that the perpetrators of this violence are punished. We call on the leadership of the APC party to collaborate with the Police to ensure the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of this criminal act.
The MFWA also appeals to all political parties in Nigeria to collaborate with the Police to ensure that the safety of journalists who are covering their activities is adequately protected.