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Journalist in Nigeria severely beaten after photographing hospital staff

UPDATE: Signs of justice for battered Nigerian photojournalist (CPJ, 5 September 2012)

(MRA/IFEX) - 10 August 2012 - On Thursday, 9 August 2012, a photojournalist with the independent daily, “Leadership”, Mr. Benedict Uwalaka, was attacked and brutalised on the premises of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) by persons believed to be mortuary attendants.

The photojournalist is currently in intensive care at the hospital where he was taken by his colleagues, after he was bleeding profusely following the beating.

Mr. Uwalaka narrated his experience as follows: “I came to LASUTH in the morning to cover the release of the corpses of victims of the DANA Air crash. Some vehicles [had been] deliberately used to block the entrance to the mortuary to prevent access.

“From a distance, I took pictures of the vehicles. Suddenly I heard a voice behind me saying, 'Show me your camera! Show me your camera! What pictures are you taking?'. Suddenly, somebody came from behind and snatched the camera from me.”

He said the attackers, numbering about four, began to beat him mercilessly, hitting him with their fists, sticks, bottles and other weapons, resulting in serious bodily injuries, especially to his face.

Another journalist, Mr. Kola Olasupo, who was present at the scene and witnessed the assault, says that what he saw was a gory sight.

According to Mr. Olasupo, “I was walking in front of Uwalaka; both of us were moving towards the pathology side of the mortuary, when, suddenly, I heard a loud sound twice and quickly turned to see two men using sticks to hit my friend, Uwalaka. As I tried to ask them what the trouble was, two other men rushed out from the door and slapped him and hit his eyes. I called on my other colleagues to assist when another one came out again with an electric-prodding device.”
Mr. Olasupo said it was the last man who inflicted the most serious injuries to his face, causing severe damage to his left eye, while the other two hit him with broken bottles at the back of the head, inflicting further injury.

“At that point, he slumped on the floor, lying in a pool of his blood before he was rushed to the Area F police station a few blocks away from the hospital.”

According to Mr. Olasupo, the police took a statement from Mr. Uwalaka before he was advised to get medical treatment and he was rushed to the emergency unit where is currently recovering.

Mr Uwalaka also lost some of his personal belongings to his attackers, who took his phone and his PENTAX 30mm zoom lens camera.


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