During March 18, 2023, Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections in Nigeria, no less than 20 journalists were attacked in 13 different incidents at various locations in different states across the country while covering the elections.
Assault and battery, including seizure and sometimes destruction of work equipment was by far the most used form of attack against journalists. MRA recorded seven incidents of assault and battery against journalists and media workers including reporters, camera men and drivers.
Political thugs attacked and brutalised the crew of Arise TV News Channel at Ikate around Elegushi’s Palace in Lagos. The crew members were brutally assaulted. Mr. Edwin Philip, a journalist working with Breeze FM 99.9 in Lafia, Nasarawa State, was brutally beaten up by officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) while covering the governorship and State House of Assembly elections. Mr. Ashiru Umar, a journalist working for Premier Radio in Kano, was brutalised by thugs while covering the governorship and state house of assembly elections at Galadanci Primary School, Gidan Galadima in Gwale Local Government Area of the State.
Mr Aloy Attah, a Correspondent of the Sun Newspaper in Onitsha was attacked by armed thugs who invaded the polling centre at Awada Primary School, Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State. They stole N3,000 from him. Armed political thugs assaulted and drove journalists and officials of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) away from Ward 13 polling Unit 22, Itori Odo, Abeokuta South Local Government Area of Ogun State when a journalist started taking pictures at the unit.
A Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) crew monitoring the elections in Lagos State were attacked and assaulted and their equipment damaged by hoodlums, led by a woman in the Onigbongbo area of Lagos State. On March 19, 2023, a soldier, identified as Lance Corporal Samson, who was among a team of military personnel who mounted a roadblock attacked journalists who were on official assignments, covering the governorship and House of Assembly elections in Kontagora Local Government Area of Niger state. He threatened to shoot one of the journalists.
In another four cases, journalists were harassed and prevented from carrying out their duty of monitoring and reporting on the conduct of the elections. In one case some journalists were detained and prevented from going to where they were going to cover the elections.
Political thugs and hoodlums harassed, assaulted and barred journalists from covering elections at different locations in Lagos including in Eti-Osa, Ifako-Ijaiye and Amuwo Odofin local government areas. A crew of Pulse Nigeria, an online news medium was harassed by political thugs who did not want the medium to capture alleged vote buying at a polling unit in Anifowose area of Ikeja, Lagos State.
Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) barred journalists and others from observing the collation of results of the governorship and house of assembly elections from the wards at its collation centre at the Somolu Local Government Area of Lagos State and in Kano State INEC officials also prevented no less than six reporters from various outlets from accessing a vote collation center in the city of Kano.
There was one incident of detention of journalists because they were driving to the venue of their assignment. Some journalists accredited by INEC to cover the elections were detained in a Bakassi community in Cross River State where they were travelling to cover the election. This was in spite of possessing INEC-issued media tags and travelling in branded vehicles.
In one case, the Ebonyi State governor, Mr. David Umahi, ordered law enforcement and security agents to arrest any journalist whom they find monitoring the elections in the state if he/she is not registered with the State Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Political thugs and hoodlums constituted the highest number of perpetrators of attacks on journalists and media workers. MRA recorded seven incidents of attacks against journalists and media workers by political thugs and hoodlums. Law enforcement and security agencies: the Military, the police, Department of State Services and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, followed with three cases of attacks by them recorded. Ironically, the Nigerian electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
Attacks on journalist was most prevalent in Lagos State during the period; there were five recorded incidents of attacks against journalists and media workers in Lagos State. Two incidents of attacks on journalists were recorded in Kano State and one each in Nasarawa, Anambra, Cross River, Ogun, Bayelsa and Ebonyi States. In one case, the Ebonyi State governor, Mr. David Umahi, ordered law enforcement and security agents to arrest any journalist whom they find monitoring the elections in the state if he/she is not registered with the State Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).