By Augustine Osayande
The Nigerian Union of Journalists, Federal Capital Council on Friday decried the continuous brutalization of journalists by uniformed officials. The Union stated that the occurrence is becoming alarming appearing to be a deliberate attempt to undermine the journalism profession, demean journalists, and intimidate them into silence.
The union in a statement signed by its secretary Rafat Salami said the action by the uniformed men is aimed to deny journalists the opportunity to do their constitutional duties as enshrined in Section 22 of the 1999 constitution and by implication putting the country democracy in peril.
“The attack, assault and brutalization of our senior and respected member MR Bonaventure Melah, the Managing Editor of Daily Times on Tuesday 22 May by Vehicle Inspection Officers VIO with policemen watching and doing nothing to help the journalist shows that security agencies apparently have a clandestine agenda of humiliating journalists and they are united in the perpetration of crimes against journalists.
“Bonaventure Melah was carrying out his legitimate duty when he was covering a fracas between VIO and Taxi drivers in Maitama which caused a serious breach of public peace. The VIO on sighting his camera pounced on him, ceased and smashed his IPAD with which he was recording VIO’s impunity against taxi drivers. They as well beat him up as well as tore his clothes, just for doing his job” Salami said
The union condemns this and previous attacks and calls on the government to halt the continuing impunity for crimes against journalists.
“We call on the government to investigate and bring the officers to book; the NUJ shall pursue this case to the full extent of the law. We also demand the immediate resignation or sack of Wadata Bodinga Director, Directorate of Road Traffic Services for refusing to even begin an investigation into the case days, after it was reported to them.
“We have had enough, we shall not tolerate any other attack on journalists and the FCT shall hold a protest to raise global awareness on the dangers journalists face in the execution of our job,” Salami said.
The union added that it shall hold a protest to demand the respect and protection of journalists’ right to and access to information and dissemination of same.