…..NUJ vows to seek redress
A journalist with the Punch newspaper, Friday Olokor was on Thursday beaten and brutalized by men of the police and department of state security services in Abuja
Olokor who was on an official assignment to cover the ongoing African Women Conference with the theme: “Factors and drivers of Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria” at the M & M Events Centre, became a victim of an unprovoked verbal assault by a police man which later degenerated into a mob physical attach on the journalist by other operatives on the scene.
Olokor said it all began after he introduced himself as a journalist.
“After introducing myself, the MOPOL stopped me at the gate and said I should get entrance tag. I told him I can only get the tag from the people who invited me and can’t get it unless I drove in. Still, he refused, had to call Patience Ihejirika of Leadership Newspapers who came, gave my my tag.
According to him, the policeman was still adamant towards him.
“The police officer was complaining that we journalists are the problem of Nigeria. I turned and ask him why do security agencies hate journalists. He started abusing me and said if not he was on uniform, he would have taught me a big lesson. He said, ‘Look, I don’t fear journalists.’ Seeing him, you can tell he’s frustrated. He said I wasn’t going to enter. I told him know that since I’ve been cleared, I have to go in because the event has started. He stopped me from entering while insisted on going inside.
“It was during this time that the DSS operatives pounded me, tore my shirts. One of them tried severally to clear me from the ground but I kept jumping like a smart monkey.
“The DSS operatives were were joined by the police officers and they were all armed. They said I should sit down, I stood up. I was handcuffed! They seized the phone belonging to Patience Ihejirika, deleted the videos and photos of the incident, while one of the police officers threatened to beat her up.
The victim also could not get help when he called for assistance.
“I called a senior officer in DSS who happened to be my friend right from school. Even when he tried to speak with them, they refused. “Tell him we’re not talking with him. Look, Olokor, I’m from Delta, when we get home, we discuss man to man”, one of them said.
“An Assistant Director called me to plead with a promise that they would been sumoned to write a report of what happened.”
The Nigeria Union of journalists has condemned the attack, describing it as reprehensible.
The chairman, FCT council of the NUJ, Emmanuel Ogbeche, in a statement, expressed dismay at “the low-life conduct of the officers and personnel in question.”
He said, “The NUJ FCT finds it reprehensible and frowns at the low-life conduct of the officers and personnel in question.
“The idea that any policeman and SSS operative will lay their hands on any journalist as is the unfortunate case of Friday Olokor speaks to why Nigeria ranks poorly in the Freedom Index.
“The NUJ will pursue this matter and hopes that those found wanting in this despicable act are brought to book.
“It seems there is now State policy targeting the media and journalists in this country. There is the urgency for all well-meaning Nigerians to not only condemn this travesty, but all assault on the right to freedom of expression and of the media.”