NUJ to sue LASUTH over attack on photo journalist

Battered Journalist
Benedict Uwalaka

Nigerian journalists’ union will seek redress for the photo journalist battered photographing Dana crash victims.

The Nigeria Union of Journalists says it would sue the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) over the brutal assault on Ben Uwalaka, a photo journalist with Leadership Newspapers.

The union’s president, Mohammed Garba, made the announcement at a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja, following last week’s attack on Mr. Uwalaka by some mortuary attendants at LASUTH.

Some staff of LASUTH battered the photo journalist and damaged his camera as he attempted to cover the removal of bodies of some of the victims of the Dana Air plane crash from the mortuary.

Mr. Mohammed, who acknowledged the gesture of the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, in ordering an investigation into the incident, condemned the incident and demanded that “culprits involved in the criminal act be brought to justice.”

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“We have already instructed the Lagos State Council to seek legal advice over this matter to enable the national secretariat of the union take appropriate measures to forestall future occurrence of such impunity,’’ Mr. Muhammed said.

The union president also expressed concern over the rising incidence of attacks on media practitioners in Nigeria in the course of performing their legitimate duties.

He recounted that Rasak Gawat of the Nigera Television Authority, Tejusosho, Lagos, also disappeared in a “mysterious manner’’ last month.

“His whereabout still remains unknown while colleagues and family members daily live in fear of the unexpected,’’ Mr. Mohammed said.

Mr. Mohammed called on the police and the State Security Service to intensify the search for the missing Mr. Gawat.

Highlighting other attacks on the media, the union president said Tunde Ogundeji, a photojournalist with Compass Newspapers, was severely beaten by thugs on Monday in Ikeja while attempting to snap pictures of an over-crowded train.

He noted that in the case of Messrs. Uwalaka and Ogundeji, the police had been contacted to thoroughly investigate the cases and prosecute the culprits.

Mr. Mohammed urged the Federal Government to ensure “effective safety standards’’ for journalists to perform their duties without molestation.

He said that government must “summon the political will to spell out measures necessary to help protect journalists and that this should be done without further delay.”

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