The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to order the arrest and prosecution of the policemen who assaulted and tortured a Guardian Newspaper reporter, Eniola Daniel.
An unidentified officer, who was a member of a team led by Shola Jejeloye, dehumanised Daniel on Sunday while the latter was covering the demolition of the shops along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway in Lagos.
MRA stressed that no democratic government should condone such lawlessness by its law enforcement officials.
In a statement issued on Tuesday by its Programme Officer, John Gbadamosi, the group condemned the recent wave of attacks on journalists in the country perpetrated by police officers.
It added that the consistent failure of police authorities and the Nigerian government to hold such police personnel accountable was evidently responsible for the noticeable spike in such cases.
The statement read: “If police authorities are unable to discipline their men and hold them accountable when they abuse the rights of citizens and violate the law, it means that they really have no interest in enforcing the law and cannot pretend to be doing so. If they have no regard for the law, then they are no better than a band of criminals backed by the state and paid from public resources. They can have no legitimacy whatever with the citizens that they are supposed to serve.
“The silence of the police authorities and the Federal Government more than 48 hours after the incident is a clear evidence of their tolerance for this sort of barbaric behaviour by officials who are supposed to uphold and enforce the law, which is apparently what has resulted in law enforcement officials frequently acting in such unlawful manner with impunity.”
Operatives from the Lagos State Police Command were reported to have gathered at the Ladipo Auto Spare Parts Market along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway early on Sunday morning to destroy shops along the road when Daniel arrived at the scene a few minutes past 10 am.
The journalist said he was filming the raging fire when a man in plain clothes suddenly approached him and slapped him from behind.
He said other security men with guns advanced to support his assailant. The policemen reportedly punched the reporter, smashed his mobile phone and dragged him into the Black Maria vehicle stationed at the scene.
The journalist said although he brought out his Identity Card and showed it to the policemen to identify himself as a reporter with The Guardian newspaper, they ignored it and continued to beat him.
He said one of them repeatedly called him “a bastard.”
Jejeloye later ordered the policemen to release him upon which his smashed phone was returned to him with instructions that all the pictures he took at the scene should be deleted.