Media Rights Agenda (MRA) strongly denounced on Thursday the brutal assault on multiple journalists by armed assailants in Opu Nembe community, Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The organization, in a statement called upon the Nigeria Police Force to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.
MRA stated that the assault occurred on Wednesday, August 16, 2023, during coverage of a violent conflict in the Opu Nembe community. Six journalists from various media outlets were victims of the attack, in which hoodlums armed with weapons confiscated their television cameras and equipment.
Among the assaulted journalists were; Joseph Kunde of TVC News, along with his cameraman Bina Miebi; Awe Baratuapere of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), accompanied by cameraman Ayebakuro Egein; Iniyekenime Doctor Bruce of Daar Communications Limited (owners of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and RayPower Radio); and Femi Folaranmi of The Sun Publishing Limited.
In a statement issued by the Program Officer at MRA, John Gbadamosi concerns were raised about the failure of the Police to protect journalists from such violations of their freedom.
This failure was described as a “sad dereliction of the Government’s obligation under international human rights law to prevent such attacks against journalists and generally ensure their safety.”
Gbadamosi urged the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun, to direct the Bayelsa State Police Command to initiate a transparent and thorough investigation into the incident.
He further called for nationwide sensitization and enlightenment activities within the Police force to enhance understanding of the role and rights of the media and journalists in a democracy.
He stressed that journalists must be able to carry out their professional duties without fear of violence or attacks. The increasing frequency of physical violence against journalists is deeply concerning and poses a significant threat to media freedom and the principles of a functioning democracy.
MRA’s statement concluded by urging the Government to take decisive action to address this culture of impunity and ensure the safety and well-being of journalists in Nigeria.
(Edited by Oludare Mayowa; firstname.lastname@example.org; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)