Attacks On The Media
In February 2000
Police Brutalises Journalist After Monetary
Inducement By Night Club Manager
On the 27th of February, this year by 12.00 midnight or
there-about I went to Surulere Night Club for the purpose of seeing my
colleague Mr. Femi Davies, a reporter for Hearts magazine who also
doubles as the manager of Wasiu Alabi Pasuma.
The first person I ran into when I got to the Club was Mr.
Taiwo Ademeno, AGM Operations of Surulere Night Club. I had known Mr.
Ademeno for quite sometime now, dating back to my days as the Operation
Manager of the same club. We had a good relationship while I was the
manager of the club, though he was a staff of the parent company – SB
BAKARE & BROTHERS in Apapa, and I had no reason to suspect any foul play.
Moreso the last time I visited the club we parted on a good note without
any misunderstanding. We exchanged pleasantries and he told me to see him
later for a discussion.
After I exchanged greetings with Mr. Taiwo, I went straight
into the club to see Mr. Davies. I saw Davies sitting with about three
other men discussing, then I headed to the bar and got a stool, ordered
for a drink and began to wait for Davies after he had indicated to me that
there was a meeting going on.
Surprisingly, after about 90 minutes at the bar, Mr.
Ademeno came to me looking so miffed with an instruction that I should
shift my seat from where I was. Though suprised at his tone, I
immediately complied with theinstruction. But he was not satisfied as he
pushed me, started calling me unprintable names and ordered the bar-man
not to sell to me any further.
At this juncture, Davies was already through with his
meeting. I called him and told him how Ademeno maltreated me. But before
he could respond Ademeno surfaced at the scene, this time threatening me
and asking me to leave the club premises or he would deal with me
ruthlessly. I demanded to know what my offence was, he left without a
reply only to return with one of the three Mobile Policemen (MOPOLs) who
had obviously been drinking, smoking heavily and walking regally around
When the policeman accosted me, while I was walking away
form Davies, the policeman pointed at me and said: “You look like a
robber.” I quickly responded and told him I am a journalist. He stared at
me for a while and went back to Ademeno who was some metres away. They
talked for about three minutes and the MOPOL returned to me, imploring me
to see Ademeno so we could talk together and settle but I argued that
there was nothing between us, thus there is no basis for dialogue except
he told the policeman what I had done wrong.
Ademeno was livid on seeing the MOPOL still talking to me
and he shouted at him that if he refused to “deal with him” (me) there is
no way he would pay them for that night.
It was like an order from a superior officer, the MOPOL
swiftly went into action. He dragged me out to the open and gave me a slap
on the face. That seemed an invitation to other members of the team as
they all rushed at me like bees on pleasantly scented flower. I showed
them my I.D Card as a member of the Lagos Branch of Sports Writers
Association of Nigeria (SWAN), an affiliate of Nigeria Union of
Journalists. They took it from me squeezed it and threw it away.
They all pounced on me, amidst all these slaps, kicks,
blows and, of course gun butts on my head, kneels and elbow. I reminded
Ademeno, who stood there supervising these men doing his devilish wish.
Within minutes I was left bare of my belongings; wrist
watch, gold wedding ring, a pair of shoes, belt, diary and a sum of N500.
Shirt and trousers inclusive, I was also stripped naked.
As helpless and weak as I was, innocent though, perhaps
thinking that their “captive” would bolt away or to further inflict harm
on me, they chained my right arm to the back door of the jeep they
brought. The jeep has the registration number: Lagos: BL 552 GGE and the
number 023 were written boldly on both sides.
Writhing in pains, one of them came to me holding a bottle
of small stout in one hand and a wrap of Indian hemp on the other. He
teased me if I would like to drink beer but I was mute. He asked if I
needed a pen so I could write stories of what happened because if I don’t
write, he would consider me a bastard. While all this was going on, I was
at the receiving end of his smoking as he deliberately puffed out smoke
directly into my face and each time he did it, he would laugh in
When it was dawn and it was time for them to go, they
unchained me, urging me to come off the vehicle. But I refused absolutely
determined to force them to elect one of two options available to me;
take me to the police station or kill me.
Initially, I shunned all pleas until a friend who is a
lawyer, Babashola Awodeinde, came around. I discussed with him and he
took me to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) for immediate
Soldiers Arrest Journalists
A team of soldiers from Arakan Cantonment in Lagos on
February 4, 2000, rounded up ten journalists on inspection tour of Mobil
oil facilities at the Apapa Complex. The four soldiers led by RSM E. A.
Ajobiwe drove into the complex in a jeep marked NA 897149. They were
questioned by the RSM who told them that the area in question belonged to
the Army and that Mobil had no authority inviting journalists to come and
take pictures. He ordered them into the jeep to meet the commanding
Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc had invited journalists to the
complex to help educate the public on the health hazard of their dwelling
in the shanty around it. About 30 journalists honoured the invitation. But
when the resident saw them they called on the soldiers who came and
rounded up ten of them.
Editor Escapes Kidnap Attempt
An Assistant Editor with the Concord newspaper, Mr. Kayode
Ogunmoriyele, on February 4, 2000 escaped from the hands of five
kidnappers at Akure in Ondo State.
Mr. Ogunmoriyele had gone to the state to make further
investigations into a story published by Weekend Concord of January 29
about a chieftain of the state People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who was
maimed by persons suspected to be rivals. The story was titled: PDP Chief
Butchered...Legs, Fingers Chopped Off.
The journalist had visited the Federal Medical Centre Owo,
the office of the State Commissioner of Police, the Ministry of Justice
and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution all in Akure.
Thereafter, he was returning to Lagos and was at the garage when two men
accosted him and asked him to follow them to the State Chairman of the PDP
who would like to speak with him. They had earlier identified themselves
as State Officials of the PDP.
They convinced him to follow them to the Chairman who was
ready to reveal the party’s finding on the incident to him. He followed
them into a waiting car in which the three men and the driver drove
through a bush path. On the way they queried his interest in the case.
He said he told them that he had no personal interest but that he was
doing it for humanity. They told him that would be his last story.
When he asked what they were up to, they warned if he
queried them again, they would bathe him with acid.
The journalist recounted that when it dawned on him that
these people meant to harm him, he began to pray. Because of an
approaching tipper and the hill to climb, their driver had to stop in
order to be able to accelerate. But the car engine stopped running. All
the driver’s effort to restart the car failed.
At this point Mr. Ogunmoriyele started shouting and when
another vehicle began to approach he intensified his efforts. The
kidnappers had no choice than to let him go. He said he ran for more than
twenty minutes through the bush path before a farmer riding a motorcycle
ferried him to safety.
Policemen Attack Journalists
Tony Obot of Brillan Sports, duly accredited to cover the
recent African Nations Cup was on February 6, 2000, assaulted by policemen
at the National Stadium in Lagos. Felix Okugbe of DAAR Communications was
also harassed by a policeman.
The policemen, led by an Assistant Superintendent of Police
(ASP) Neugi Msheika, initially prevented Mr. Obot from entering the
national stadium where the Super Eagles team was practising, only to
descend on him with slaps on the face and knocks on the head. His clothes
were also torn. He was, however, rescued by the intervention of Sunny
Oyarekhua, a member of the security sub-committee.
Paul Bassey, head of the media sub-committee begged the
journalists who staged a boycott before they returned to their beats.
Governor Threatens Journalist’s Life
The Sokoto State government on February 8, 2000,
threatened to deal with The Punch Correspondent in the State, Mr. Stanley
Yakubu. He was accused of allegedly giving the State “continuous negative
coverage of activities.” The state governor’s Director of Press Affairs,
Mallam Ibrahim Gidado told Stanley that he had been sent by the governor
to warn him to be very careful and put a stop to all the nonsense he had
been writing about the state and the governor in the interest of his life.
He added that the State government was increasingly disturbed by his style
of reporting. He, therefore, warned Stanley; “you may not live to tell the
Gidado said the State government had watched how Stanley
and his paper had fought against the Sharia issue and having failed had
shifted to the governor and his government. He reminded the journalist
that he was in Sokoto State and not his own state, threatening: “Here, we
can take care of people like you easily.”
Journalists Barred From Session
Journalists covering the National Assembly were on February
8, 2000, barred from the venue of the ministerial budget defence. Though
no reasons were given for the action, it was believed that the lawmakers
did not want the defence budget proposal for the fiscal year 2000 made
About four ministers appeared before various
committees to defend their ministries’ budget proposals from which
journalists were hindered from covering. Even the Committee on Foreign
Affairs which, initially allowed journalists later sent them out after the
Assembly Members Seek Ban On House Coverage
Several members of the Benue State House of Assembly led by
its Deputy Speaker, Alhaji Sule Audu, in mid-February tried vainly to
sponsor a motion baring journalists from covering proceedings of the
Assembly. The House members also wanted a ban on members granting
Alhaji Audu said the ban had become necessary because
interviews conducted by some journalists were always embarrassing, adding
that often journalists reports of proceedings of the House were distorted.
Audu’s motion was supported by majority of the members, who
said that radio Benue and the Voice Newspapers, owned by the state
government, were the worst offenders.
However, the Speaker, Mrs. Margaret Icheen, overruled the
motion and stressed that all arguments advanced by the legislators
infringed on the freedom of the press.
Icheen pointed out that as representatives of the people,
journalists could approached them at any time for interviews.
Governor Threatens To Blacklist Triumph
The Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Saminu Turaki, on
February 16, 2000, threatened to blacklist the Triumph Publishing Company,
Kano, publishers of the Triumph newspapers, because of alleged negative
reports of the paper on the state.
Speaking with the management of the company led by the
Managing Director, Alhaji Mohammed Danyaro, who paid him a courtesy visit,
Turaki said the paper was not being fair to the state in its coverage of
He said he was disappointed to note that most of the
newspapers’ reports on the state were negative, despite that Jigawa was
once a part of Kano State.
The Governor said the state might stop patronising the
newspaper, until it changed its “negative attitude”.
He pointed out that Jigawa and Kano should have a
proportionate coverage from the paper, adding that the state government
would no longer assist the company since it did not consider Jigawa as its
Speaking earlier, Danyaro told the governor that they were
in the state in continuation of their tour of the north-west states, which
were the catchment areas of the newspapers.
Gov.’s Wife Dumps Journalists In Desert
Journalists representing different media organisations in
Gombe State were on February 17 dumped about 120 kilometers away from the
state capital while accompanying the convoy of the governors’ wife, Hajiya
Aishatu Hashidu, on her local government tour.
The journalists were forced off a Toyota vehicle allocated
to them in the middle of the journey on a terribly rough terrain by the
chief detail to the governor’s wife, Miss Deborah Morgan.
Sources said that the chief detail officer was acting on
the order of a higher authority to forcefully eject the journalists and
hand over the vehicle to commissioners’ wives as their vehicles could not
make the journey through the rough terrain running to hundreds of
kilometers. The chief detail officer rebuffed pleas by the governor’s
wife’s Press Secretary, Miss Lydia Kure, on behalf of the journalists.
The journalists had to trek a distance of about 25
kilometers to the main road before returning to Gombe by public
Magazine Sales Manager, Driver Attacked
On February 21, 2000, Timothy Olakunle Ojo, The News
magazine’s sales manager in Kaduna, northwest Nigeria, was attacked near
the Jos Road area of the city by religious zealots who vandalised his car.
Saka Anifowose, a driver for the magazine who had gone to
Kaduna to deliver The News consignment, was also attacked. He was stabbed
three times by the rioters and is now receiving treatment in a Kaduna
Muslim protesters had held several rallies in support of
the planned promulgation of Sharia (Islamic) legal system in Kaduna state.
On February 21, the Christians embarked on a
demonstration against the proposed law. Clashes later erupted between
members of the opposing groups leading to over 500 reported deaths.
State Assembly Attack Journalists
Journalists covering the Cross River State House of
Assembly were on February 23, 2000, abused and cursed by the State
legislators for writing and exposing a bribery scandal now rocking the
house. The legislators described the journalists as “illiterates, half
baked graduates, and poverty stricken.” The lawmakers who cursed them as
well also accused them of being paid agents who was out to tarnish the
image of the Assembly.
Journalists covering the Assembly had recently reported
that the legislators had allegedly extorted N2.5 million from the Local
Government Chairmen in order to influence their tenure to be made four
instead of three years.
Reacting to the attack, the Association of Assembly
Correspondents, in a letter to the Speaker of the State Assembly, on the
same day, expressed disgust and disappointment over the legislators’
unguarded utterances on the issue. The letter signed by its Chairman,
Comrade Increase Abasiubong, and the Secretary, Ubon Ekanem, asked the
Speaker to call the legislators to order.
In the letter, they said. “… we detest the disparaging
statements, name-calling and defamatory utterances made by some lawmakers
against the press.” They warned that “any further unprovoked attack on
members of the revered profession will be vehemently resisted and possibly
culminate into total boycott of the Assembly’s proceedings.”
Governor’s Aides Assault Journalist
Mr. John Ekpeyong, The Comet newspapers Correspondent in
Akwa Ibom State on February 26, 2000, had his tape recorder and cassette
seized by the aides of the Delta State governor, Chief James Ibori at Okop
Ndua Erong in Akwa Ibom State. Chief Ibori was at the village to witness
the traditional marriage of the daughter of Governor Victor Atta of Akwa
Mr. Ekpeyong had approached Governor Ibori and was
conducting an interview with him when one of his aides tapped his
shoulders and asked him to leave Chief Ibori alone. He was moving away
after being refused further questions by the governor when the aide asked
him to give him the tape. Mr. Ekpeyong refused to hand over the tape
saying he got permission to interview the governor. But that did not
placate the aides who pounced on him and forcibly seized his working tool.
Gun-totting Policeman Storms Media House, Causes Stir
Mr. Sikiru Ojewumi, a police inspector attached to the Bode
Thomas Police Station in Surulere, Lagos on February 28, stormed The Punch
newspaper Offices and threatened to shoot the workers. The policeman had
reportedly drove to the premises in an unmarked stolen commercial vehicle,
alighted from the bus and walked into the reception asking to see the
When he was told to sit down and wait for his turn, he
allegedly walked off climbing the staircase. The receptionist rushed to
stop him, but he drew out his gun and threatened to shoot him. The ensuing
pandemonium attracted other staff. It was Mr. Adenigba that was able to
approach him, calm him, and took him to his office where he interrogated
the rampaging policeman.
He revealed that he was the policeman who was wrongfully
dismissed from service three years ago for arresting an armed robber but
reinstated and promoted after The Punch Correspondent in Abeokuta did a
story on his travails. He was carrying the newspaper and other documents
relating to the case with him. But his mission at the media house on that
day was not known.
While being interrogated, the media house called the Lagos
State Special security outfit, “Rapid Response Squad” which came, disarmed
and arrested him. He was taken to the Isokoko Police Station where he was
Four Journalists Arrested and Detained
Four reporters with Newsflash newspapers, an evening
tabloid, Bashir Fasasi, Gbade, Mrs. Kemi Alomaja and David Oladimeji were
on February 28 arrested and detained by the police in Ikeja, Lagos.
They were arrested over a front-page lead story published
by the paper where it alleged the involvement of Senator Bola Tinubu,
Governor of Lagos State, in a drug deal. They were detained at Area ‘F’
Police Station in Ikeja.
Media Rights Agenda (MRA) demanded their immediate and
unconditional release saying it viewed the continued detention the
reporters without charge or trial, after more than 24 hours in custody, as
arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional and a gross violation of their
rights under Sections 34, 35, and 41 of the 1999 Constitution and Articles
3(2), 4, 5, 6 and 12(1) of the African Charter.
They were not released as at month end.