The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has vehemently condemned the disturbing incident that unfolded on Wednesday, August 16, 2023, where a group of journalists were brutally attacked by armed hoodlums while covering a violent conflict in Opu Nembe community, Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The organization is calling on the Nigeria Police Force to initiate a comprehensive investigation into the incident and ensure the perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.
In a statement released by the Communications Officer of the Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, the organization expressed its deep concern over the blatant assault on journalists and their equipment. The incident saw six journalists, representing various media outlets, fall victim to the aggression of the armed hoodlums. These journalists were present to report on a conflict, only to become victims themselves.
Among the victims were Mr. Joseph Kunde and his cameraman, Mr. Bina Miebi, both from TVC News; Mr. Awe Baratuapere and his cameraman, Mr. Ayebakuro Egein, from the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA); Mrs. Iniyekenime Doctor Bruce from Daar Communications Limited, which owns AIT and RayPower radio; and Mr. Femi Folaranmi of The Sun Publishing Limited.
MRA expressed its profound dismay at the failure of law enforcement to ensure the safety of journalists while carrying out their duties. This incident underscores a severe lapse in the government’s obligation to protect the freedom and safety of journalists. The organization urged the relevant authorities, especially the Police, to address the situation promptly and decisively.
Mr. John Gbadamosi, MRA’s Programme Officer, emphasized that the government must not allow a culture of impunity to thrive when it comes to attacks on journalists. He called upon the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kayode Egbetokun, to instruct the Bayelsa State Police Command to initiate a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident.
Furthermore, Gbadamosi urged the police force to conduct awareness and education campaigns to enhance their understanding of media freedom and the rights of journalists within a democracy.
The escalating frequency of physical violence against journalists is deeply concerning, threatening not only the safety of those in the media but also the foundation of freedom of the press in a democratic society. MRA highlighted that media freedom is an essential pillar of a functioning democracy and stressed the urgency of protecting this fundamental right.