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Nigerian policemen assault reporter for taking pictures of a demolition

On 15 April 2013, Goke Famadewa, a reporter for The Punch newspaper was attacked by officers of the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental Offences Enforcement Unit and policemen affiliated to the unit. He was taking photographs of the demolition of alleged illegal structures by taskforce officials in the Lagos Island area when he was attacked.

Famadewa's shirt was torn to shreds, his mobile phone and camera were seized and he was detained for over three hours in a "Black Maria", a windowless police van used to transport detainees and prisoners.

Describing the incident, Famadewa said, "At about 12pm, I was trying to take pictures of structures being demolished. Suddenly, I was accosted by two plain-clothes officers of KAI (Kick Against Indiscipline - another name for the Taskforce) who dragged me. They pulled my trousers and shirt and began punching and kicking me."

He said that while he was being assaulted, they kept asking him what right he had to take photographs of the demolition.

He told them he works with The Punch newspaper and proceeded to show his identity card but one of his assailants seized it as they continued to batter him.

Famadewa said a police sergeant, Chris Agwu, who watched the assault later told him: "Even if you are from CNN, you have no right to take photographs unless you are permitted by the police."

It was Agwu who ordered him to be locked up in the "Black Maria".

He was later taken to two senior police officers, Assistant Superintendent of Police Friday Dickson, and a Deputy Superintendent of Police, whom some called 'Oga Taiwo'.

Like Agwu, Taiwo told Famadewa, "You have trespassed by coming to this vicinity and taking pictures without informing the police. When you get to a scene like this, you ought to look for the police and request to take pictures."

Thereafter, Taiwo asked that Famadewa's seized equipment be returned to him. He was released after the pictures he took of the demolition had been deleted.


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