The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, CDHR, in Osun State has described as barbaric and condemnable, the unprovoked attack on journalists by overzealous officers of the State Security Service, SSS.
CDHR in a press release signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Wahab Akinrinade and Emmanuel Olowu respectively, on Wednesday said the attitude of the operatives was absurd, cruel, criminal and that it was unbecoming of civilised security agents.
The human rights group stated that it was becoming alarming the rate at which journalists were being molested and attacked by security operatives in the state, recalling that officers of the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, had early this year attacked the state correspondent of HallMark Newspaper, Segun Adeyemi.
Calling on the agency, also called DSS, to sanction the errant officers and call its other operatives to order, CDHR warned that such attack on journalists must not be swept under the carpet.
The group maintained that if the perpetrators of the attacks are left unpunished, it would further endanger the lives of journalists in the state, adding that it would smear the image of the security agencies if the case was not properly investigated and prosecuted.
“The attack on a journalist by DSS operatives is highly condemnable. It is barbaric and absurd to see security agents attacking newsmen with impunity. This reminds us of the dark days of military era.
“Journalists are not just workers; they are the eyes and ears of the public. They are members of the fourth estate of the realm who are constitutionally empowered to perform their duties. Injustice to one is an injustice to all.
“An attack on any journalist is an attack on all; and a threat to democracy. If journalists could be attacked freely by the DSS officers, who is safe from the uncivilized and criminal act? It is a dangerous trend seeing DSS officers, who were supposed to be civil, informed and enlightened waging war against journalists.”
In a similar incident, about 20 soldiers of the Nigerian Army on Tuesday beat up journalists and smashed their phones, Ipads and other gadgets as they invaded the state secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Umuahia, Abia State.
The soldiers, who were parading the streets of Umuahia on a show of strength under the exercise, alleged that the journalists took pictures of their exercise without authorisation.
The army has pledged to deal with the errant soldiers.