The Nigerian Union of Journalists, FCT Council, has warned that it was a dangerous time to be a journalist in Nigeria given the near-daily intimidation, harassment and detention of journalists in the country.
In a statement by chairman of the council, Comrade Emmanuel Ogbeche, Tuesday in Abuja, he described as unfortunate and deeply troubling the conduct of operatives of the State Security Service also known as Department of State Security against journalists that had gone to cover a sit-out of activists demanding for the release of Omowole Sowore, detained publisher of Sahara Reporters, that had fulfilled his bail conditions as set out by a competent court.
“From reports and videos from our members who were on ground in the legitimate pursuit of the calling as journalists to cover a sit-out at the SSS Headquarters in Abuja that they were harassed, intimidated, tear-gassed and even arrested and detained speaks to a more sinister and perilous time to be a journalist in Nigeria,” Ogbeche said in the statement.
“Today, it has become a recurring decimal for journalists and media practitioners to be at the receiving end of security operatives in the pursuit of their constitutional guarantee to collate, disseminate and hold government and its officials accountable to the Nigerian people.
“What is even more troubling is that security operatives now believe that they have official backing of the State to so maliciously assault journalists.
“The NUJ FCT Council wishes to state that these abuses have dire repercussions on the Nigerian State as a fragile democracy and those who are responsible for this should be advised that they will be held accountable,” the statement further stated.
According to the NUJ Chairman, Richard Oludare of The Guardian Newspapers was badly beaten leaving scars on his body, while many TV cameras were damaged in the process.
He called on journalists not to shirk their responsibility to Nigerians right to information in this difficult times as history has shown that the pen will always triumph over dictatorial tendencies.