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Attacks On The Media In January 2002

 

Minister Assaults Journalist

Nigeria's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alhaji Sule Lamido December 8, 2001, assaulted a journalist in Kano, injuring him severally, for asking a question that the minister considered uncomfortable.

           

The journalist, Mallam Askita Aliyu, who is the Daily Times correspondent in Kano, had accosted the minister at five Star Hotel, Tahir Guest Palace, where the minister had lodged during his visit to the state and sought to clarify certain information from the minister. Aliyu met the minister amidst party cohorts and top government functionaries in Kano.

           

The information, according to Aliyu, was that the minister had demolished his residence and was rebuilding it at a cost of N360 million.

           

He reportedly began to abuse the journalist who explained that he was only performing his duty by investigating, and hoping to clarify the truth or otherwise of the information.

           

The journalist's explanations seemed to infuriate the minister who pulled off his babanriga (gown), charged through the gathering and pounced on the reporter.

           

The journalist was rescued from the minister's continued assault by the Kano State Commissioner of Commerce and Tourism, Yusuf Baita, and the National Youth Wing leader of the PDP, Alhaji Aliko Koki.

           

Aliyu is also the chairman of the correspondents' chapel of NUJ in Kano.

 

Government House Policemen Assault Journalists

Policemen attached to the gate of Ondo State Government House, on December 17, assaulted three journalists, whom they threatened to kill. The reporters are Babatope Okeowo, Emmanuel Adegha and Yemi Idris of The Comet, Anchor and Voice of Ekiti newspapers respectively. They were assaulted and detained temporarily at the Government House Gate-house.

           

The journalists, returning from an assignment, had noticed a scuffle between the policemen and some commercial motor-bike riders popularly known as Okada, who alleged that the policemen had demanded a bribe of N20 form one of them.

           

However, the policemen said that the Okada rider was obstructing the convoy of Governor Adebayo Adefarati. The journalists attempt to investigate the allegation and counter allegation did not meet the approval of the policemen who became hostile. They arrested and detained the journalists. They later released the journalists when they realized that the journalists were determined to complain to higher authorities.

 

Governor's Aides Threaten Journalists

Journalists in Enugu State have alleged threat to the practice of their profession by aides of the State governor, Chimaroke Nnamani. They, therefore, petitioned the House of Representatives saying that they "are no longer free to practice our profession due to instant threats and banning of journalists in Enugu State."

 

The petition signed by Messrs. Uche Maduemesi and Acho Ugochukwu, chairman and Secretary respectively of the Correspondent Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), were addressed to Chijioke Edeoja, Chairman, House Committee on Information. They complained that journalists in the state could no longer freely practice their profession having incurred the wrath of the state government. They alleged that the state government officials accused them of slanting their reports against the governor. They claim that “the governor's penchant for reflecting only his own views and sing his praises” has thus put him and some journalists who refuse to abide by his 'one way traffic' at cross purposes and has consequently embarked on crude and undemocratic means to whip them into line.

 

The journalists declared that they were "appalled by this ugly trend of events in the face of the present democratic dispensation,” and added that "there are mature, responsible and civilized means of seeking redress, and in our case, the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) which can discipline erring journalists is in place."

           

Alameiyeseigha Threatens Workers Who Divulge Official Secrets

Bayelsa State governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyesigha during the month threatened to deal decisively with civil servants and public officers who divulge classified information. Claiming that such action could be injurious to a State, he said the disclosure of "top secret" information is tantamount to treasonable felony.

           

The governor warned that he would invoke the relevant provisions of the civil service rules and regulation as well as bring the full weight of the law to bear on defaulters. He warned that ignorance would not be accepted as excuse.

 

Photojournalist Assaulted

Security details to Lagos State governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, severely beat up a photo journalist during the burial of assassinated minister for justice chief Bola Ige.  The security men also broke the journalist’s camera. 

 

The photo journalist was in the process of taking shots of scenes and persons at the burial ceremony when he was attacked.  The security details did not explain to the journalist the reason they attack him.  But commenting later Gov. Tinubu defended his aides saying they were doing their job because the camera man could have been an assassin.
 

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