On August 2, 2021, Mr Oluwagbemiga Olamikan, a Photo Journalist with the privately-owned Vanguard newspaper, was assaulted at the premises of the Federal High Court in Abuja by Department of State Services (DSS) officials while he was taking pictures of aides to Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho..
Oluwagbemiga was initially manhandled by two DSS operatives who held onto his clothes pushing him in different directions apparently trying to seize his phone. They were joined by two others who joined in manhandling him until one of them was able to lay hold on the phone and thereafter they left him but not after a brief heated argument with one of them.
Condemning the assault, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), FCT Council, described the intimidation and harassment of journalists by personnel of the DSS as threat to democracy and the rule of law.
The Union stated this in a press statement issued same day and jointly signed by Comrade Emmanuel Ogbeche and Ochiaka Ugwu, Chairman and Secretary of the council noting that it has become habitual for the DSS and other security agencies to harass journalists while doing their legitimate duties, and called for an immediate end to the use of force against journalists and media workers in general.
In reaction to the condemnation, on August 3, Dr Peter Afunanya, the Public Relations Officer of DSS, disclosed in Abuja in reaction to the alleged assault on the journalist that the service will investigate the alleged assault adding the DSS is a responsible security organisation with a good working relationship with the media and so, could not have assaulted journalists.
But Media Rights Agenda (MRA) rejected the proposed DSS plan to probe the attack saying that it had no confidence in the proposed investigation by the Service into the reported assault on photojournalist and describing the DSS plan as an exercise in futility which can have no credibility. It called for a serious, independent and impartial investigation into this and other attacks against journalists.
In a statement issued in Lagos on August 4 rejecting the proposed DSS investigation, MRA’s Legal Officer, Ms Obioma Adesewa Okonkwo, said: “The idea that the DSS plans to investigate itself in order to bring about a resolution of this matter is offensive to any concept of justice or fairness and runs counter to the well-established legal principle of fairness that you cannot be a judge in your own cause.”