Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today condemned the brutalization of Trust Television station cameraman, Mr. Taiwo Yishau, on February 21, 2023, at the venue of the All Progressives Congress (APC) grand finale rally for the party’s presidential flag bearer, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
The organization called on Police authorities to ensure the immediate arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators, saying it was bewildered that policemen stationed at the venue of the rally who witnessed the attack on the media professional did nothing to assist him or to put an end to the assault. It described the failure of the policemen to intervene to put an end to the unwarranted attack on the cameraman as criminal negligence.
In a statement issued in Lagos, MRA’s Programme Officer, Mr. John Gbadamosi, said the attack on Mr. Yishau was “an egregious violation of press freedom and the basic human rights of the journalist”, stressing that “journalists play a vital role in our society, serving as watchdogs to hold those in power accountable and provide the public with essential information. Any attempt to silence or intimidate journalists or otherwise impede them in the performance of their duties constitutes a threat to our democracy and should not be condoned.”
Mr. Yishau was reportedly attacked at one of the gates to the Teslim Balogun Stadium, the venue of the rally, despite displaying his press tag issued by the party. He was stopped from entering the venue of the rally even after explaining that he was duly assigned and accredited to cover the event. He was thereafter hit multiple times by a gang of hoodlums who accused him without any evidence or basis of forging the accreditation tag.
According to Mr. Yishau, the incident started when the bouncers hired as security men at the gate to the stadium handed him over to his attackers who accused him, also without any evidence or basis, of working for another party.
Narrating his ordeal, the cameraman said: “I showed them the press tag given to us by APC Publicity Secretary, Mr. Seye Oladejo yesterday. But they said it is fake. They said I am working for the opposition. They asked me to show previous works I did for APC and they kept beating me.”
Mr. Yishau said the policemen stationed a few meters away from the scene stood idly by, watching the brutal assault on him, adding that “They didn’t say anything. I was trying to protect my camera and the phone as they kept beating me.”
Stressing that the behavior of the policemen and the political party that allowed such an assault on a journalist was unacceptable, Mr. Gbadamosi noted that the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage requires law enforcement agencies, political parties, and other relevant stakeholders to ensure an enabling environment for journalists and other media workers to effectively discharge their duties before, during and after elections.
He expressed concern at the repeated incidents of attacks on media professionals and the violation of their rights at political rallies and events, particularly those of the ruling APC, saying it was an extremely worrying development that political parties which are expected to be the platforms through which the leaders of the country would emerge have no appreciation of the importance of the role of the media in the political process, including elections.
Mr. Gbadamosi called on the Inspector General of Police to order an immediate investigation into the incident and ensure that those responsible for the attack on Mr. Yishau are arrested and prosecuted.
Besides, he said, all relevant authorities, including the leadership of the various political parties, should take urgent steps to ensure the safety of journalists and put necessary measures in place to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.