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Reporters assaulted, threatened at gunpoint by police while covering Action Congress party rally

(MRA/IFEX) - On 3 August 2008, three reporters of different independent Nigerian dailies were severely beaten by policemen escorting a politician of the Action Congress (AC), the ruling political party in Lagos state: Mr. Adewale Ajayi of the "Nigerian Tribune"; Mr. Emmanuel Oladesu of "The Nation"; and Ms. Bimbo Ogunnaike of "Nigerian Compass". The incident occurred at the state secretariat of the party on Acme Road, Ikeja in Lagos.

The police officers were enraged by the presence of journalists at the rally, which they believe was a strictly party affair. The reporters' explanation that they were invited to cover the rally fell on deaf ears as one of the policemen said, "it was high time the reporters were taught a lesson they will never forget."

At a point, Constable Adebayo Elias pointed his AK 47 rifle at Ajayi and threatened to "eliminate" him, but the journalist was rescued by the timely intervention of party leaders.

Commenting on the incident, Ajayi said: "we did nothing to warrant the treatment the police meted out to us. In fact, since I've been covering events, I have never been so badly humiliated. Imagine somebody who is about 10 years younger than I beating me up because he was carrying a gun paid for by my taxes. It is terrible. I never wish this on my worst enemy."

Joe Igbokwe, the AC publicity secretary in the state, tendered his unreserved apology to the journalists and promised the party would take responsibility for their treatment.

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