Concerns about the safety of journalists in Nigeria are rising further as attacks on the press have continued in June unabated ahead of the country’s 2023 general elections. The IPI global network reiterates its call on the authorities to step up efforts to ensure journalists are protected and safe while discharging their work of informing the public.
One journalist was arrested and detained, and three others were attacked on June 18 and 19 in Ekiti and Lagos. These attacks add to the already tall list of incidents of assaults on press freedom during the political party primary elections.
On June 18, Jeremiah Omoniyi, a student journalist working with the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) was arrested and detained by elements of the Department of State Service (DSS) while covering the election for governor in Ekiti State. Omoniyi was taken away by the DSS for allegedly recording a video of a brawl involving party agents at a polling unit in the Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government area. He was later released.
On June 19, journalists Adeola Ogunrinde and Omatseye Atsenuwa of Smooth 98.1 FM and Adedoja Salam of TVC and other journalists were attacked by “political hoodlums”, according to reports. The journalists were returning from covering a courtesy visit paid by the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Party, Bola Tinubu, to the palace of Oba Rilwan Akiolu when their vehicle was vandalized. According to reports, Ogunrinde was wounded in the face, while Atsenuwa had his arm hit directly by one of the heavy stones thrown at the press crew bus. Salam went into shock due to the heavy bombardment of stones and bricks thrown at the press crew bus, leaving the windscreen and nearly all the side screens broken.
These recent incidents come after 15 journalists were attacked in May in Nigeria, in many cases related to the coverage of political primary elections, as IPI previously reported.
The International Press Centre (IPC), a Nigerian journalism watchdog, has recorded more than 40 other incidents of attacks on journalists since the beginning of the year.
IPI condemns the recent harassment and attacks on journalists in Nigeria and demands political party leaders and security forces authorities put in place necessary mechanisms to protect journalists reporting on election-related activities.
‘’Journalists carrying out their crucial democratic role shouldn’t be the target of attacks nor illegal arrest and detention”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Political parties and security forces should ensure journalists are safe and free to do their jobs. Meanwhile, authorities must investigate all instances of violence against journalists and hold those responsible to account in order to prevent impunity and make clear that attacks on the press will not be tolerated.”