Nigeria ALERT: Policemen brutalize two journalists

Attah Ikharo and Jerry Adamu, two journalists of a privately-owned television station, Degue Broadcast Network (DBN), were beaten up by policemen led by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of the Garki Police Station in Abuja, Femi Ogedengbe.

The incident took place while Ikharo and Adamu were covering protests embarked upon by temporary staff hired by the National Population Commission in Abuja over the non-payment of their allowance for the national housing and population census exercise held in Nigeria in March 2006.Narrating their ordeal, Ikharo said the DPO led his men to the venue of the payment exercise ostensibly to maintain peace and order because the enumerators were becoming restive over the delay in the payment of their allowances. According to him, “The DPO himself threw a teargas canister to the crowd even though the crowd didn’t provoke the police with any untoward attitude. However, the teargas caused a pandemonium and confusion. Everybody was surprised because the situation had not degenerated to the level of releasing teargas on the people.”

In the confusion that followed, the policemen were reported to have attacked the journalists. Ikharo said: “At this point, the DPO held me by the neck and spat on my face while the others (policemen) attended to my colleague in the same proportion. The two of us sustained injuries with my colleague’s forehead gushing with blood. “The incident was later reported to the Inspector General of Police, Sunday Ehindero, and the Commissioner of Police for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lawrence Alobi, who was reported to have queried the DPO and reprimanded him for his conduct. Ikharo said the DPO was ordered by the Police Commissioner to apologise to the journalists and pay their medical bills. But he said although Ogedengbe tendered a verbal apology, “we have not seen the man to either ask us how we are doing or to see us while we were being treated at the hospital.”

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