Today, July 27, 2023, marks exactly 970 days since the body of Pelumi Onifade, a 20-year-old reporter with Gboah TV, was discovered in a morgue at Ikorodu Lagos.
The discovery of his body on October 30, 2020, brought a chilling end to days of search by Onifade’s family, friends and colleagues after he was hit by a bullet from security officers who were tackling a riot in Lagos on October 24, 2020
He was covering the #EndSARS protests for Gboah TV, an online television channel. Specifically, he was filming some criminal elements who had infiltrated the protest to plunder Covid-19 relief items stored in the Ministry of Agriculture warehouse at the Agege Local Government Area.
Unfortunately, he was shot and wounded by the Lagos State Task Force deployed to subdue the mob. If the injury was involuntarily inflicted, the task force erased any doubt about their real intentions when they carried away their victim in a vehicle, despite the fact that he was wearing a jacket showing that he was working as a reporter.
Carried away alongside several miscreants arrested in the course of the deadly crackdown, Onifade, also a level 200 university student, reportedly died in custody from the injuries he sustained and further beatings by his abductors. It took five days of search at police stations and prison facilities by Onifade’s family members and employers before they received information that his corpse was at a mortuary at Ikorodu, Lagos.
True to the dismal information, the family discovered Onifade’s body in a mortuary in Ikorodu Lagos on October 30, 2020. His family lawyer said his body had bullet wounds.
It is a sad irony that a journalist ended up being a tragic victim of police brutalities, the very phenomenon that had sparked the #EndSARS protests. Two years and nine months extending over 970 days of impunity is too much for a journalist who was covering criminality but got murdered like a criminal.
As we mark the 30-day countdown to the 1000th day, the Media Foundation for West Africa MFWA (MFWA) and its partners, International Press Centre and Media Rights Agenda (MRA) have officially launched a 30-day social media campaign to demand justice for Pelumi Onifade, a true martyr for press freedom. The initiative is a countdown to the 1000th-day milestone.
On this dismal milestone occasion, we call on Nigerian authorities to commence investigations into the murder of journalist Pelumi and ensure the perpetrator are punished.