Thugs Attack Journalists at Governorship Primary Election Collation Centre

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Comrade Festus Alenkhe, Chairman, Edo State Council of NUJ

On February 17, 2024, several journalists who were covering the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary election were attacked by suspected political thugs at Lushville Hotel in Benin City, Edo State, which served as the election coalition centre.

The problem began after the primary election results from eight local government areas had been announced, and journalists covering the event were instructed to vacate the center. Before journalists could gather their things together, thugs swooped on the venue after overpowering the police operatives at the gate.

Journalists were viciously attacked and beaten, with their equipment destroyed by members of a faction of the party. In a shocking display, a laptop belonging to a journalist working with Arise TV, Abraham Godwin, was smashed in the presence of security agents at the centre. A Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) cameraman and a Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) reporter were also assaulted, and their equipment vandalized.

The presence of the State Commissioner of Police, Funsho Adeboye, with the officials of the party at the centre did not deter the hoodlums from engaging in the free for all.

Following the attack, the leadership of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), requested the leadership of the APC to tender unreserved apology within seven days to the Union, for assaulting its members or be prepared for a war with the media.

Chairman of the Edo State Council of NUJ, Comrade Festus Alenkhe, disclosed this on February 18 in Benin, while reading the decision of the national leadership of the Union over the attack on journalists who were covering the primary election of the party.

Comrade Alenkhe described the attack on journalists who have the legitimate rights to cover electioneering process as a show of shame. According to him, the NUJ, Edo State Council met at the directive of the national leadership and resolved that the Edo State APC should replace all the damaged equipment of journalists that were covering the event, pay the medical bills of those injured during the attack, and that the APC should tender an unreserved apology.

The NUJ also urged the Edo State Commissioner of Police to help fish out all those who were responsible for the attack and ensure that they are prosecuted because the report says that some of them are very known as they did not wear masks.

The Union also requested that the management of Lushville Hotel to make available to it the CCTV footage of the incident and that this should be made public and also help the police in doing their investigations.