The Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, FCT Council, has condemned the recent reported assault on a photojournalist with Daily Trust newspapers, Ikechukwu Ibe, by an Army captain.
Mr. Ibe was gathering news on October 26 at Jabi area of Abuja when he was attacked, the NUJ said.
The union in a statement by its Secretary, Rafat Salami, on Monday said Mr. Ibe “was brutally assaulted leaving him with multiple lacerations and swollen eyes.”
The statement also said “the over-zealous military officers confiscated his camera, removed and destroyed the memory card just because he took some pictures of a vehicle that ran into a restaurant in Jabi.”
The council said it is disheartened by the incident.
“Rather than treat journalists as partners in nation building, security agents have consistently treated journalists as enemies who must be crushed.
“More saddening is the fact that the assault took place just as Nigeria is preparing to commemorate the “International Day to End Impunity For Crimes Against Journalists” on November 2,” the union said.
The union said such actions by uniformed security agents are unacceptable in a civilised and democratic nation where the rule of law must be allowed to thrive.
“It is a clear case of gross violation of the rights of the journalist,” the group said.
The statement quoted the assaulted reporter as saying “When I got there at about 3 p.m., I introduced myself to the security men on ground and told them I would like to take some pictures.”
He said when he started taking the pictures, the army captain, who wore a camouflage without a name tag and part of the Joint Ministerial Taskforce which included men of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, pounced on him and started beating him up without provocation.
“They collected my camera, broke it and took my memory card which contained the photos that I had taken. They also tore my clothes before bundling me into a Black Maria where I met six other persons.
“I later put a call across to my photo editor and the Daily Trust Editor, who brought a pair of trousers to me at the Life Camp Police station where I was taken to.
“My editors later secured my release and my broken camera was handed back to me without the memory card. However, my Identity card and N3, 700 cash in my pocket were not returned,” he said.
The NUJ on Monday called on the Nigerian government to bring to book the perpetrator of the dastardly act on a law abiding citizen, who was only doing his job.
It also requested that the authorities should immediately replace the damaged camera.
NUJ said adequate compensation must also be made to Mr. Ibe for the brutalisation meted on him.
The union also demanded an “unreserved apology from the highest authority while putting up machineries to prevent future incidences.”
The army spokesperson, Sani Usman, did not respond to calls and short messages sent to him on the matter.