By OLASUNKANMI AKONI
IKEJA—Members of the Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Thursday, staged a peaceful demonstration to the office of Governor Babatunde Fashola at Alausa, Ikeja, to protest the incessant harassment and brutalisation of journalists in the state and warned against further uncouth acts on its members.
The protesting journalists from various media houses cutting across electronic and print were apparently, disappointed as neither the governor, nor his deputy, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire, personally addressed them. The governor was said to have travelled to Saudi Arabia, to perform the Umrah – lesser Hajj.
Vice-President, B Zone of NUJ, Mr. Dele Atunbi and Chairman, Lagos NUJ Council, Mr. Deji Elumoye, and other officials of the union led the peaceful protest, which took off from the Ladi Lawal Press Centre, Alausa, to the office of the overnor.
Journalists had stormed Ladi Lawal Press Centre as early as 8 a.m. where the protest march began at 10 a.m.
Chanting solidarity songs, the protesting journalists arrived at the entrance of the State House, Ikeja, at 10. 50 a.m. and demanded to meet the governor. They were told by the security personnel at the gate that the governor was not around but assured that a representative would attend to them.
Determined to achieve their aim, the journalists sat on the floor of the entrance for several minutes, chanting solidarity songs while they waited for the government representatives to attend to them.
Irked by the 40 minutes delay under the scorching sun, the journalists blocked the entrances of the State House, preventing cars from exiting and entering the premises, just as they demanded to see a representative of the governor.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Information and Strategy, Lateef Raji, however, came later to attend to the resolute journalists.
Raji, who received the letter from Elumoye, apologised for keeping the journalists waiting. He explained that the governor was not available to attend to them as he had embarked on the Lesser Hajj.
The Special Adviser also apologised for the brutality meted to two members of the union, Messrs Benedict Uwalaka and Tunde Ogundeyi, saying that the government could not fold its hands and watch law-abiding citizens brutalised by overzealous persons, assuring that the perpetrators would face the music.
He, however, charged the media to carry on their duties and responsibilities without fear, just as he assured of government’s support to protect citizens from needless assault fromany member of the society.
Meantime, Atunbi and Elumoye said NUJ lawyers had been briefed to institute a criminal case against LASUTH, T.O.S Funeral Services and its worker, Bayo Idowu.