12 journalists, five media outlets attacked during #EndSARS protests – CPJ

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said 12 journalists and five media outlets were attacked during the EndSARS protests that erupted across the nation and the attendant violence.

It demanded a transparent and swift investigation into recent attacks on journalists and media outlets during the protests.

In the report published on Wednesday, the CPJ said the journalists who covered the protests against police brutality and call for the abolition of the country’s Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad police unit were attacked.

At least five news outlets were attacked, according to news reports and journalists who spoke to CPJ, the reported stated.

“It is a tragic irony that journalists have been repeatedly attacked, including by uniformed members of Nigeria’s security forces, as they report on protests against police brutality,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa programme coordinator, from New York.

“Unfortunately, the violence we have seen against Nigeria’s press in recent days is consistent with the violence that journalists in the country routinely face. Nigerian authorities must take immediate action to hold those responsible to account and ensure the media can work safely.”

The CPJ said it has made efforts to officially notify Nigerian authorities of its demand for an investigation into the attacks.

“Repeated calls and text messages to Nigerian police spokesperson Frank Mba, and Nigerian army spokesperson, Musa Sagir, went unanswered”, the report noted.

Timeline

The CPJ report also provided a timeline of the attacks on journalists documented during the protests.

The protests initially started peacefully but turned violent after it was hijacked by hoodlums and disrupted by security operatives.

Dozens of people, including peaceful protesters and police officers, were killed while public and private facilities were attacked.

Arguably, the worst of such incidents was the attack on unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos.

At least 56 people have died since the start of the #EndSARS protests with 38 of them killed last Tuesday alone largely due to the government’s crackdown, the human rights group, Amnesty International, said.

On October 5, at least five police officers attacked Ebuka Onyeji, a reporter with the privately owned PREMIUM TIMES newspaper, while he was covering protests around the federal secretariat government buildings in Abuja, according to a report by the outlet and an account by the journalist.

On October 11, Gimba Kakanda, a columnist with Daily Trust newspaper, was attacked by police officers when he tried to pick up his car near the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in Abuja.

Also on October 11, police attacked Arise Television camera operator, Francis Ogbonna, and reporter Ferdinand Duruoha, while they were covering protests in Nigeria’s capital, according to a video shared on Twitter by Arise Television.

On October 13, authorities in Abuja again attacked Mr Duruoha, as well as two Arise Television camera operators, Jonah Udofia and Joshua Benjamin, according to a report by the independent news site, International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), the CPJ reported showed.

On October 12, a group of protesters in Gbagada, Lagos State, hit Television Continental presenter, Theophilus Elamah, in the chest and forced him and the cameraman he was working with, Julius Idowu, to leave the protest area, Mr Elamah told CPJ.

On October 17, Oluwatoyin Yusuf, a journalist with the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC) was attacked by unidentified men while covering a protest in Ashogbo, the state capital.

On October 21, a group of unknown men also attacked the OSBC building with stones, breaking windows and destroying vehicles parked outside the compound before security officers intervened.

Also on October 21 in Lagos, unidentified men attacked the offices of Lagos State Television (LST) and the TVC broadcaster, according to media reports. LST, TVC, and Max FM, which occupies the same centre as TVC and is owned by the same company.

While covering the October 21 attack on TVC, Ayo Makinde, a reporter with the privately owned Channels Television broadcaster was assaulted by unidentified people.

On October 21, unidentified people twice attacked the privately-owned Nation newspaper in Lagos, setting cars outside on fire, shooting at the building, and stealing computers and broadcast equipment.

On October 24, police repeatedly hit Akpokona Omafuaire, a senior photojournalist with the Vanguard newspaper, after he stopped his car on his way to the Nigeria Union of Journalists’ headquarters in Warri, a city in Nigeria’s southern Delta State, according to Omafuaire, who spoke with CPJ via phone.

On October 26, Emmanuel Adeyemi, a correspondent with privately-owned The Sun newspaper, was shot by unidentified people as he travelled to the NUJ office in Lokoja, a city in Nigeria’s south-central Kogi State.

Rising attacks

The CPJ said it has been keeping tabs on attacks on journalists around the world with the events during #ENDSARS protests adding to the toll.

At least 277 journalists were murdered while on the job worldwide since 2008, the CPJ found in its latest annual analysis.

The report – annual Global Impunity Index – says 83 per cent of those cases did not record successful prosecution of the perpetrators over the ten years.

According to the data, the number represents those killed between September 1, 2010, and August 31, 2020.

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