Nigeria Alert: Journalist stabbed while covering political rally, amidst explosions and gunfire

Charles Erukaa, a journalist with the privately-owned Channels Television in Nigeria, was stabbed in the neck by an unknown person while covering a political rally on February 16, 2015.

The MFWA’s correspondent in Nigeria reported the incident happened at a rally organised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) at Okrika, Rivers State. During the event, there were several explosions and gunshots. Following this, the crowd was dispersed and the attackers began to loot. It was during this period that Erukaa was stabbed.

“Some of the attackers who have been looting the property of people who had provided the public address system now surrounded me and tried to take my phone away from me on the suspicion that I was actually calling reinforcement to come pick them up.” Erukaa said in an interview on Channels TV on February 17, 2015. “So in the scuffle, I got stabbed in the neck.”

According to the MFWA’s correspondent, dozens of people were injured in the attack including two security officials who had been deployed there to maintain law and order. It is unclear who is behind this attack.

Meanwhile, the chairman of Rivers State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Opaka Dokubo, threatened that journalists in the Okrika area might boycott coverage of the upcoming elections in Nigeria unless authorities implement adequate safety measures.

Opaka made these comments during a working visit to the Resident Election Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) on February 18.

Reacting to the violent attack on journalists at the APC rally in Okrika, the Rivers State NUJ Chairman noted that, as purveyors of information, journalists are always at the forefront of both war and crime situations, without any form of security.

“As journalists, we do not carry arms.” Dokubo said. “All that we have is the biro and the cameras you see here, but we are always at the forefront of the battlefield. We don’t have bullet proofs; we don’t have any form of security.”

The MFWA joins the NUJ in demanding protection from security agencies for journalists in their line of duty. We also urge political party affiliates and other actors to recognise the media’s role in democracy and peace-building and accordingly desist from attacking journalists.

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