On April 15, 2015, unknown persons attacked about a dozen journalists who were covering a disagreement between factions of the Nigerian Trade Union Congress (TUC) over a three-day strike in Osogbo in south-western Nigeria.
According to the MFWA’s sources, the unknown persons arrived in a TUC bus and threw bottles at the journalists who had gathered at the Osun State Government Secretariat before targeting Oloyede Oyegbenle, a cameraman at Channels TV. They beat Oyegbenle before seizing his camera.
Oyegbenle was later rescued by his colleagues and treated at the hospital for his injuries.
The MFWA’s sources also said policemen at the scene failed to intervene when the journalists were attacked.
Efforts by journalists to report the incident proved futile as they were tossed from one police station to another. While the Divisional Police Officer of the Ataoja Police Station, directed them to the police station on the secretariat premises, the policemen at the Secretariat police station directed journalists back to Ataoja Police Station to report the incident.
The police later arrested two persons involved in the attacks and returned Oyegbenle’s camera to him without the recording.
The MFWA condemns this attack on journalists. We are equally shocked by the posture of the Osun State Secretariat police who looked on while the alleged TUC members attacked journalists. We note with concern that this is not the first time members of the Nigerian police have failed to protect journalists from danger.
In March 2015, Gabriel Achong, the Commissioner of Police of Akwa Ibom State, told Etim Ekpimah, a journalist with privately-owned PUNCH newspaper, that the police would not offer him protection despite the threatening text messages sent to Ekpimah.
In light of recent and past incidents, we urge the Nigeria Police Force to recognise the media’s important roles, particularly as a watchdog, and see them as partners in democracy and peace-building.