…says culprits must be brought to justice
By Emmanuel Elebeke
The harassment and assault on journalists by law enforcement officers, one again came to the fore, Thursday, as officers of Nigerian Prison Service from Kuje Prison numbering about ten openly brutalized a Vanguard reporter, Mr. Emmanuel Elebeke.
The incident occurred, at about 2 pm at the premises of Court 2 of the FCT High Court, Maitama, Abuja when the reporter took photographs of some accused persons in a murder case which came up in the court.
Trouble started when this reporter took a snap shot of the six accused persons from Kuje prison, who were standing trial for a murder case of one Anthony Eze (late), while they were being handcuffed by the prison officers following the adjournment of the case by the presiding judge.
Not being comfortable with the action, the officials descended on the reporter demanding for his camera and questioning his powers to take such picture even though, it was taken outside the court room.
When the reporter stood his ground and refused to release the camera, all the prison officials and relatives of the accused started beating him demanding that he must release the camera.
The incident drew the attention of the court officials who came to rescue the journalist but their efforts were not enough as the mob attack overwhelmed them.
While the beating was going on, one of the prison officials by name Rita (female) ordered that one of the handcuffs be removed from the accused persons and be used on the reporter, while her order was being carried out another prison official was busy hitting the reporter with his gun butt while others were kicking him with their boots.
Mr. Elebeke was injured in both legs and other parts of his body.
They stopped the beating when they finally got hold of the camera and made away with it in a Prison bus with registration number PS635A01. They insisted that the journalist had no right to take any photograph of the accused and that his camera would remain seized as an exhibit.
When the report of the attack got to the judge, Justice Garba Salisu, he was quoted faulting the actions of the Prison officials.
NUJ condemns attack, says culprits must be brought to justice
In a swift reaction, the Chairman of the Federal Capital Territory Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Mr. Paul Ella condemned the attack in its totality and insisted that the prison officers must be brought to justice.
He said, “It is totally unacceptable to us as a union and the profession of journalism. Such an act cannot be tolerated in a society where we all call for social justice.
“We as a union will investigate the case in full and make sure that the perpetrators are brought to justice. We will do everything within our power to ensure that this does not repeat itself.”