Attacks The Media In June 2004
Armed Bandits Invade Punch Office In Port Harcourt
Two men suspected to be cult members have laid siege to the office of The
Punch newspapers in Port Harcourt and have on two occasions collected some
amount of money at gun point from the staff.
The men first came on May 31 requesting for some copies of the Punch
newspaper. Initially, they introduced themselves as members of the Diobu
Vigilance Outfit and later demanded that the accountant give them some
money to enable them bury one of their members who was killed recently.
The accountant said he had no money, but one of them brought out a gun
which he pointed at him, frightened by the sight of the gun, he gave them
N1,000 and they quickly left.
On June 4, the same gunmen returned and this time met the senior
circulation officer. They brandished their guns and demanded to be paid
N5, 000 or he would lose his life. Out of fear, the circulation officer
counted N5,000 and gave it to them. They left only to return a few hours
later. However, when they noticed that many people were in the office,
they went away.
Based on these threats, the Punch office forwarded a letter requesting for
police protection to the office of the Rivers State Commissioner of
Journalists Barred From Tribunal
Heavily armed policemen on June 8 prevented journalists from covering
proceedings at the Osun state local government election petition tribunal
holding in Osogbo.
The venue of the sitting located within the premises of the state’s
judicial commission was barricaded by the policemen who insisted that no
journalists would be allowed into the premises notwithstanding
identification by the journalists.
Horsewhip-clutching policemen, unmoved by the explanation of the
journalists that they were there to carry out their legitimate duties,
shoved them back, threatening to shoot if they entered the premises.
Two journalists were injured by policemen who pushed the gates against
them just as explanations that it was wrong to bar journalists from
covering the tribunal’s sitting made no sense
The policemen, led by the Divisional police officer in charge of Dugbe
police station , Mr. Ayodele , told journalists to go back or be dealt
with. With a shout that’’ we are enforcing orders from above.
Police Brutalise Journalists
A detachment of heavily armed men and officers of the Nigerian Police on
June 10 in Osogbo, the Osun State capital brutalized eight journalists who
were at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Center to cover a
lecture organized by Democracy Sustenance Initiative (DSI) as part of
activities scheduled to mark the anniversary of the annulment of the
election victory of late Chief M. K. O. Abiola. They also sealed the
Centre to prevent the lecture from taking place.
The gate of the NUJ Secretariat was blocked by the policemen who also
turned back participants from the Centre. Mrs. Teju Abiola, widow of the
late Chief Abiola, who lodged at the guest-house of the secretariat was
held hostage. She was prevented from leaving the secretariat.
Mr. Daniel Idiahe, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, the Area Commander
of Osogbo, who led the policemen told journalists he had orders from above
to seal off the secretariat. He added that the organizers of the
conference constituted security risk in the state, that they should have
sought and received police permission to organize the conference.
The state NUJ, however, in a statement by the chairman and secretary, Mr.
Ayoade Adedayo and Hammed Bodunrin, directed its members to boycott
activities involving the police with immediate effect.
They condemned police action and described as uncivilized the way the NUJ
press center was invaded by the police.
Abuja Newspaper Vendors Allege Harassment
The Abuja Newspaper Vendors Association during the month alleged incessant
harassment by officials of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board [AEPB].
The Association therefore threatened to go on strike adding that the
strike became necessary due to the unconcerned attitude of the AEPB to
The chairman of the Association, Mr. Clifford Ukonu, made this known while
speaking on a raid by members of the AEPB.
He lamented that the present leadership of the Newspaper Proprietors
Association of Nigeria (NPAN) has distanced itself from the association,
only to come at the end of the year to collect what they called renewal
Governor, Walks Out on Journalists
The Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Saminu Turaki, in the month, stormed
out of a press conference at the National Assembly over what he perceived
as negative questions from journalists. Turaki was reported to have said
he regretted coming to the venue of the meeting.
One of the reporters had sought his comment on the allegations by Minister
of State for Finance, Mrs. Esther Nnenadi, that governors usually
repatriate their states allocation abroad.
He replied, “You people are always asking negative questions, if you are
like this then Nigeria will not move forward.”
According to him, every question that was coming from the reporter was
negative adding: “I am a positive governor.”
The governor then stormed out of the venue to join his convoy.
Correspondent Petitions Security Agencies Over Alleged Threats
To His Life
The Benue State correspondent of ThisDay newspaper, Mr Daniel Lor, on June
21 petitioned security agencies in the state alleging threat to his life
by some aides of the Benue State governor, Mr. George Akume.
Mr. Lor addressed his petition to the state director, State Security
Services (SSS); the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police Zone 4;
the Inspector General (IG) of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun; civil rights
groups, national and states officers of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
He said further in the petition that an aide to the governor had two
months earlier, sought to know his residence and that on another occasion,
the governor singled him out and made uncomplimentary remarks about his
person. He also said that strange people have been detected hiding in his
compound and that his movements are being monitored. He said: “I am
constrained to conclude that my personal security is in danger of being
Governor Akume’s Chief Press Secretary, Chief Tahar Agerzua, however in
his reaction described the allegation as false, saying the governor has
always maintained a cordial relationship with journalists including the
petitioner whom he said was given government sponsorship to attend a
professional course in 2001.
Reporter Assaulted, Injured And Arrested
The Osun State correspondent of Daily Independent newspapers, Mr. Gbenga
Faturoti was on June 25 beaten up by a team of policemen in Osogbo the
State Capital to a state of stupor, injured in the process and
subsequently arrested. He was assaulted by the policemen on the order of
their superior officer in the State House of Assembly, Mr. O. C.
Agboromoti, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP).
Mr. Faturoti had gone to the Osun State House of Assembly to cover the
Special Parliamentary Session in honour of the former Internal Affairs
Minister, late Chief Sunday Michael Afolabi. He took his position at the
Gallery of the House. During the session, Gbenga’s mobile telephone
handset began to ring and before he could switch it off, ASP Agboromoti
ordered his arrest and detention. Immediately, the policemen swooped on
One Sergeant Adebayo Moses slapped him twice in the face. Gbenga was
manhandled, dragged on the floor and subsequently arrested. In the
process, he sustained injuries on his body.
It took the intervention of the media team to the State Governor to get
the reporter released.