A media related Non-governmental organisation, Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned the physical attack by a police officer on a female journalist, Taye Edeni, with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
HURIWA made the condemnation in a statement jointly issued by its National Coordinator, Mr. Emmanuel Onwubiko on Friday in Abuja.
Edeni was reported to have been assaulted by security operatives ahead of the arrival of President Muhammadu Buhari and his entourage to commission an inland dry port in Kakuri, Kaduna state.
Onwubiko urged Buhari to direct the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Alhaji Idris Ibrahim, to fish out the Police operative that reportedly physically manhandled and wounded the female journalist during the exercise.
He demanded that the particular officer(s) who carried out the attack on the professional journalist when she was carrying out her lawful duty, must be identified, prosecuted and punished for assault and battery.
Onwubiko said the physical harassment of the journalist did not only amount to a breach of her constitutional duty to carry out her lawful duty but also amounted to a “committal of a crime’’.
He said such attack must be redressed and the perpetrator prosecuted and sanctioned severely to demonstrate that the country was that of law and order and not a place where might is right.
Onwubiko said it was wrong preventing journalists from gaining access when there was clear provisions of the constitution to the effect that the citizens must participate in the governance of the Nation.
“One way of promoting open government, transparency and accountability is the granting constitutionally of an unhindered access to the media to bring information of activities of government to the people of Nigeria’’.
It added that prevention of the media was unacceptable “since the constitution spells out clearly that it is from the people of Nigeria that government officials derive authority and legitimacy since the Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria’’.
Onwubiko also condemned the Jan. 1 “pre-dawn invasion’’ by several armed police operatives drawn from Special Anti-Robbery Squad, of the Nnewi country home of the United Kingdom based publisher of an online medium, Mr. Daniel Elombah.
He recalled that Elombah, the publisher of the online medium www.elombah.com, and two of his brothers were reported to have been whisked away to an Abuja detention.
He said Elombah was locked up for over 48 hours before being reportedly released on bail, while one of his brothers still kept in Kuje prison.
He added that Elombah’s brother was alleged to have been harassed because of an article published in the medium purportedly accusing the IGP of maladministration.
The Rights group said it was illegal for police officers to turn journalists into punching bags just to prevent them from carrying out their legitimate duties.
“We will be writing to the Senate President and the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives to task them to defend the constitutional mandate given to the media in section 22 of the constitution to serve as the National Conscience of Nigeria.”