Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today called on the Inspector-General of Police to order the arrest and prosecution of the policemen, led by Mr. Shola Jejeloye, who assaulted, tortured and dehumanized The Guardian newspaper reporter, Mr. Eniola Daniel, on Sunday while he was covering the demolition of the shops along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway in Lagos.
The organization stressed that no democratic government should condone such lawlessness by its law enforcement officials.
In a statement issued on behalf of the organization by its Programme Officer, Mr. John Gbadamosi, MRA condemned the recent wave of attacks on journalists in the country perpetrated by police officers, saying the consistent failure of Police authorities and the Federal Government to hold such police personnel accountable was evidently responsible for the noticeable spike in such cases.
Mr. Gbadamosi said: “If Police authorities are unable to discipline their men and hold them accountable when they abuse the rights of citizens and violate the law, it means that they really have no interest in enforcing the Law and cannot pretend to be doing so.
“If they have no regard for the Law, then they are no better than a band of criminals backed by the State and paid from public resources. They can have no legitimacy whatever with the citizens that they are supposed to serve.”
The operatives from the Lagos State Police Command were reported to have gathered at the Ladipo Auto Spare Parts Market along the Apapa-Oshodi expressway in the early hours of Sunday morning to destroy shops along the road when Mr. Daniel arrived at the scene a few minutes past 10am to find the policemen burning tyres as they destroyed shops along the road.
The journalist started filming the raging fire set on the highway when less than three minutes later, according to him, a man in plainclothes suddenly approached him and slapped him from behind continuously with other security men carrying guns running to support his assailant.
The policemen reportedly punched the reporter, smashed his mobile phone and dragged him into the “Black Maria” vehicle stationed at the scene.
The journalist said although he brought out his Identity Card and showed it to the policemen to identify himself as a reporter with The Guardian newspaper, they ignored it and continued beating him with one of them calling him “a bastard.”