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27.12.2022 Featured 8 Nigerian Reporters Arrested for Doing Their Job in 2022

Published 27th Dec, 2022

By Segun Ige

In the year 2022, several reporters have, at different times, been incarcerated by security agents acting on the orders of some powerful Nigerians for going about their work.

The affected reporters, who were from different media houses in the country, had different experiences. A few were assaulted before detention, and while some were in custody for less than 48 hours, others spent weeks.

As the year 2022 draws to an end, FIJ highlights some of them:

‘IF YOU ARGUE OR SAY ANYTHING, I WILL SHOOT YOU’

Fashina Shakiru, a Lagos-based community journalist who manages Mile 2 Community News, was brutalised and threatened to be shot dead by officers attached to the security agency code-named Operation Mesa (Op-Mesa) at about 8:56 am on Thursday.

Shakiru told FIJ how the security operatives unjustly injured him while he was going about his traffic reportage early in the morning.

“I was covering the traffic on Mile 2 inward Orile. I focused my camera on that particular traffic scene. From the other end, which was the highway, suddenly, the Op-Mesa descended on me directly,” Shakiru said.

“‘Who are, who are you? What are you doing with the video?’ one of them asked. I said, ‘I am a traffic reporter.’ Immediately, I showed him my ID card. As this man was checking my phone, another one came, slapped the hell out of me and injured me with an iron rod on my head. Then he started harassing me: ‘If you talk or argue anything, I will shoot you.’”

Forty-year-old Shakiru, who has been reporting for the community for three years, said officials of OP-MESA suspected he was “covering” their patrol movement, only to find out otherwise after checking through his phone.

“Immediately, I stepped back after the shooting threats. The officer still holding my phone had checked through if I had recorded or taken any sensitive video or picture. He thought I was covering their patrol movement. But then he did not find anything as such, and he dropped the phone. The officer that injured me came again and collected the phone. He threatened to shoot me dead if I got close to him,” he said.

“A man I suspect to be an officer in mufti walked towards and talked with them, and my phone was released. Afterwards, I went to a nearby clinic to stitch up the wounds and went to the police station to report. There, I was given a medical report to go to a general hospital in Lagos for proper treatment.”

‘THEY HANDCUFFED MY LEFT HAND TO THE BUS’

Matthew Agbaje, a journalist with ThePunch newspaper, was on July 18 brutalised for recording some policemen illegally demanding a bribe at Berger Bus-Stop on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

On his way to work on that day, Agbaje, who had recorded how a five-man police team descended on a bus driver who refused to bribe them, was punched, slapped and tied to a commercial bus for attempting to expose their horrendous activity.

“I was on my way to the office. I had descended from the pedestrian bridge at Berger Bus-Stop, inward Ogun State, when I saw some policemen, about five of them, dragging a bus driver. I decided to record the incident with my phone,” Agbaje said.

“One of the officers, who suspected something odd, collected my phone and dragged me to their vehicle. He asked me to unlock the phone, while others punched me with their fists.”

Agbaje said the situation became worse after identifying himself as a journalist.

“They all shouted at me at the same time and queried me for using my phone at the scene. They handcuffed my left hand to the bus and started slapping me on the face and in my right eye. They punched me more after I identified myself as a journalist,” he said.

‘5 OVERZEALOUS OFFICERS, DRAGGED, STARTED KICKING ME’

It was the second-year remembrance of scores of Nigerian youths lost to the fire power and naked brutality of the Nigerian police.

Eniola Daniel, a journalist with TheGuardian newspaper, had gone reporting the #EndSARSMemorial at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20.

“The first thing I did after alighting from the bus was to greet and identify myself as a journalist,” Daniel said.

In a bid to escape the tear gas fired by the police, Daniel said, he “ran towards the police van, thinking that there wouldn’t be any problem since I already identified myself, but five overzealous officers dragged me and started kicking me”.

“I fell. My response was, ‘But I came to you earlier’. They said, ‘You are with the jobless criminals.'”

In his discombobulated state, Daniel, who had suffered a deep cut on his right leg, said another police officer approached him, threatening to do “something” to him if he did not go to his “jobless” colleagues.

“The police I have been working with should not work against me. The police I help to promote should not spill my blood,” he said after the assault.

MONITORED, DETAINED

On September 8, Taraba Truth and Fact reported that Taraba State Governor Darius Ishaku had been making moves to sell the state’s Liaison Office located at No. 4 Yawuri Garki, Abuja.

Ayodele Samuel Oloye, the publisher of Taraba Truth and Facts newspaper and CEO of Rock FM 92.3 in Jalingo, the capital of Taraba State, had hinted on the possibility of being arrested by some Taraba State Government agents after a publication that Ishaku had “plans to sell Taraba liaison office”.

In a press statement sent to FIJ, Oloye said there had been plots against him in the government house, supervised by Governor Darius Ishaku’s aides.

“I wish to bring to the notice of the general public threats to my life by agents of the Taraba State Government through the aide-de-camp to Governor Darius Ishaku and some top government officials in the state,” he said.

He narrated how he was being monitored on November 25 by a black Prado SUV conveying government officials.

“On November 25, 2022, after honouring a police invitation at the Taraba State Police Command, Jalingo, at about 6:30 pm, I observed a black Prado SUV with tinted glasses and covered number plate followed the vehicle I was in. I drove in to an Access Back area where I took a detour,” he said.

“At about 8 pm of that very day, my team and I also observed that the same Toyota Prado SUV was parked close to Galaxy Hotel, Jalingo, where I was usually lodged. This forced me to abandon the hotel.”

He continued: “On November 26, the same Prado SUV was seen around Ishaku Continental Hotel, where I was lodged at about 8 pm. Since Friday, November 25, I have been living in fear, and my movement is being closely monitored by agents of Taraba State for reasons best known to them.

“As a law-abiding citizen, I have honoured two police invitations between Friday and Saturday within the shortest notice, and I wonder why the agents of Taraba State Government are on my trail.”

Ayodele was, however, detained on July 25 by the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) over a petition by Emmanuel Bwacha, the lawmaker representing Taraba South Senatorial District and All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Taraba.

BRUTALISED AND DETAINED

On December 10, Segun Ige, an FIJ journalist, was detained by police officers at Odo-Noforija Erodo Division in the Epe Local Government Area of Lagos State.

The FIJ journalist had arrived at Odogbawojo village on Friday to investigate a land dispute. Ige was first brutalised by the Erelu family around 10 am for investigating the land dispute between them and the Ora family before he was taken to the police station.

Before he could speak with any of the parties in the dispute, some members of the Erelu family alleged that he was affiliated with the Ora family.

Based on the assumption that the journalist was ‘spying’ for the opponent’s family, the Erelu family and the neighbourhood slapped and drove him to the police station, where he was detained.

He was eventually released after FIJ’s intervention.

MURDER STORY LED TO DETENTION OF PUBLISHER

Haruna Mohammed, publisher of WikkiTimes, a Bauchi-State based platform, and Idris Kamal, a journalist with the outfit, were held by officers of the Bauchi State Police Command after they honoured an invitation by the police in June.

On May 18, WikkiTimes had published a report titled ‘How Bauchi APC Chairman Died After Series of Threats’. In this report, the outlet wrote that Hussaini Musa Gwaba, chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bauchi State, received a series of threats before being eventually assassinated.

“They invited the publisher and Kamal to the station on Monday, and they went with our lawyer. The police did not let them go until later in the evening,” a reporter working with the newspaper told FIJ.

“The next day (Tuesday) both of them went back to the station to honour the invitation again, but they were later locked up. If the man (Abdullahi) wants to pursue a defamation case, he should go to court. The police should not be detaining them.”

The journalists were, however, released the following day by Babe Sekoni Abdulfatai, a magistrate, who asked them to pay a N100,000 bail bond each and provide one surety each in like sum.

DETAINED FOR EXPOSING A GOVERNOR

The State Security Service (SSS), Ogun State, arrested Olamikan Hammed, a blogger and publisher of EaglesForeSight, for undisclosed charges in May.

The State Security Service in Ogun invited Hammed for questioning on Friday, May 13, according to Festus Ogun, Hammed’s lawyer, and he honoured the invitation, only to be detained in relation to articles about Dapo Abiodun, the Governor of Ogun State, on his website.

“The supposed invitation bordered on reports published by the blogger exposing the criminal activities of Dapo Abiodun in the United States,” Ogun wrote.

“Mr Hammed, since arrested, has continued to face unjust harassment, torture and intimidation for merely doing his job as a citizen journalist after being forced to pull down the story from his website.”

He was not released until September, after spending 137 days in jail.

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Published 27th Dec, 2022

By Segun Ige

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