Thugs Attack Journalist Covering Elections, Police Threaten to Arrest Him

Benjamin Alade, Reporter, The Guardian newspaper
Benjamin Alade, Reporter, The Guardian newspaper

On March 9, 2019, The Guardian newspaper reporter, Benjamin Alade, who was duty at a collation centre situated at the Community Primary School in Idimu area of Lagos was attacked by about 15 political thugs and when he reported the incident at the Police Station, he was threatened with arrest.

At about 8:15 am, Benjamin visited the centre to check the movement of election materials and saw some INEC ad-hoc staff barricading the school entrance. He took shots and video of protesting National Youth Service Corps members, who had not been paid their election duty allowances. While taking pictures, he was attacked by thugs who claimed to be agents of political parties demanding that he deletes the videos and pictures.

The thugs, carrying planks and metal, threatened to break Benjamin’s phone if he refused to delete the pictures. They later seized his phone after some arguments.

Benjamin approached one of the police officers attached to the centre to help salvage the situation and the officer ordered that he be taken to Area M Idimu Police station to report the incident.

At the Idimu Police Station, after he introduced himself, he was harassed by officers at the counter for taking pictures and videos. He was temporarily detained and only released after the intervention of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) who told him journalists were not expected to take pictures at the collation centres.

Though he later ordered the release of the journalist, he insisted that all pictures and videos captured on his phone during the voting exercise be deleted by constables at the counter. The DPO also threatened to lock him up in the cell if he was ever caught again taking pictures and videos at any polling unit or collation centre.