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Radio reporter assaulted by mourners, narrowly escapes death

(MRA/IFEX) - Mr. Murtala Sani, a reporter with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) on March 8, 2010 narrowly escaped being killed by a crowd of mourners while on assignment to cover the mass funeral of victims of the March 7 massacre in Dogo Nahawa, Plateau State, in North central Nigeria. He escaped the assault from the crowd when it was dispersed by police gunshots fired in the air.

Mr. Sani said the adviser to the Plateau State governor on religious matters, Rev. Gyang Choji, demanded he hand over his official identity card and then informed some men standing nearby that the reporter was an ethnic Hausa-Fulani. Thereafter, the mourners descended on him and began beating him. According to Will Connors, the Wall Street Journal reporter who covered the funeral, "He was inches from losing his life. They wanted to kill him and throw his body in the mass grave with the others."

But before he could be killed, police fired into the air to disperse them and then took Sani to a military hospital in the nearby city of Jos where he was treated for multiple injuries to his head and body and later moved to another location. His colleagues said Sani's car was destroyed and his equipment stolen.

The State Commissioner of Information, Gregory Yenlong, reportedly met Sani after the incident and pledged to cover his medical expenses. He said "[Sani] is a responsible, committed journalist. But he must take precautions in these tense times; he should ask for security coverage when covering these events."

Another journalist, Aminu Abdulla, who is a reporter with Agence France-Presse (AFP), was also accosted by the mourners, who demanded that he prove he was a Christian by reciting the Lord's Prayer. Abdulla reportedly managed to escape with the help of other journalists but lost equipment that he kept in Sani's car.


RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to authorities:
- calling for a probe of the allegation that the governor's adviser on religious affairs instigated the attack and that if found guilty should face the law;
- demanding that the medical expenses incurred by Mr. Murtala Sani be reimbursed and that he be compensated for the assault.


APPEALS TO:

Air Commodore Jonah Jang
Executive Governor
Plateau State
Government House
Jos
E-mail: [email protected]

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