Following the attacks on journalists in Ekiti and Lagos state over the weekend, the International Press Centre (IPC) has said it is imperative for media owners, the political parties, and the government to put in place mechanisms for the protection of journalists during campaigns and elections.
IPC in a press statement signed by the Communications Officer, Olutoyin Ayoade, condemned the attack on journalists in the convoy of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Sunday, June 19, 2022, in Lagos, as well as the arrest and detention of Jeremiah Omoniyi, a campus journalist who was deployed by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) to cover the Ekiti governorship poll.
According to media reports, the journalists affected in the convoy of the Lagos State Governor were; Adeola Ogunrinde and Omatseye Atsenuwa of Smooth 98.1FM, who were severely injured, while Adedoja Salam of TVC was left in a state of shock.
Also, Omoniyi was arrested and taken away by the DSS during the polls on Saturday, June 18, 2022 for allegedly recording a video of a brawl involving party agents at a polling unit in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area in the state.
Executive Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, while reacting to the incidents charged both the Police and the Lagos State Government to bring the perpetrators to justice to serve as a deterrent to those who may be planning similar attacks on journalists in the countdown to the 2023 elections.
Condemning the attack on Omoniyi, Mr. Arogundade said the conduct of the DSS operatives amounted to undue harassment and obstruction of a professional journalist on legitimate election duty.
According to him, the leadership of the DSS and other security agencies should sensitize their officers on election duty that no law prevents journalists from covering, recording, and reporting incidents on Election Day.
“It is also worth reminding all security agencies that the role of the media during electoral processes and elections is recognized by the constitution and the Electoral Act and any assault on any journalist or other media professional on electoral duty, therefore, means that the laws of the country are being undermined”, Mr. Arogundade said.
“The fact that the weekend attacks bring to more than 40 the number of dangerous and life-threatening incidents involving journalists and other media professionals as documented by IPC’s Safety Alert Desk in the year 2022 alone underscores the need for such protection for journalists in Nigeria”, Mr. Arogundade added.