A reporter for People’s Daily newspaper in Nigeria was allegedly beaten by Special Task Force (STF) soldiers and prevented from seeking medical assistance for two hours on Tuesday.
Bayo Alabira was stopped as he was leaving his home to go to work, and was passing through an area that soldiers were guarding ahead of potential interreligious violence on Eid-al-Fitr, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, reports said.
When he was stopped, Alabira said he was a journalist. He could not produce his ID card, which he had left at home, although he was carrying a camera at the time, Alabira told IPI. But rather than being asked to get his press card, Alabira was beaten across his body and on his head, he told IPI.
He was then detained in an STF truck for two hours despite the fact that he was bleeding from his head and required medical attention, the journalist told IPI.
“When I said they should let me go for medical treatment, they said ‘You should die here,” Alabira said. After two hours, one soldier relented and let Alabira use his phone. He tried to call an STF commander, but couldn’t reach him. He eventually reached colleagues who contacted the soldiers’ commander, and Alabira was subsequently released.
Alabira went to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) for help, and colleagues at the NUJ brought him to hospital for treatment. As of Wednesday, Alabira was back at work and recovering.
The NUJ and government spokespersons have officially condemned the attack, according to news reports.
“It is unacceptable for journalists to be beaten and prevented from seeking medical treatment,” said IPI Director Alison Bethel McKenzie. “We condemn the unprofessional and inhumane attack on Bayo Alabira, and demand that prosecutors identify and bring to book the individual soldiers responsible for this crime.”
Alabira told IPI that he does not believe that the soldiers will be brought to justice, although the NUJ has taken up the case.