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Police assault journalist for taking photograph in Nigeria

On 13 December 2013, Mr. Yunusa Gabriel Enemali, a broadcast journalist and the Media Special Assistant to the Chairman of Ibaji Local Government Area in Kogi State, North-central Nigeria, was assaulted and severely wounded by policemen in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, on suspicion of taking photographs of a policeman allegedly collecting a bribe.

According to Enemali, the incident took place at about 6:30p.m local time while he was being conveyed on a commercial motor-bike from J Z Hotel to Treasure eatery, opposite the Specialist Hospital in Lokoja.

He said at the U-turn, as a photographer, he took a panoramic shot of the environment as the motor bike waited behind a traffic warden who was standing in front of another motorbike rider.

He said the traffic warden noticed he was taking photographs and ran to him asking why he was taking photographs of him.

Enemali said he asked the officer if he had done anything wrong, but rather than answer him, the traffic warden challenged him, asking: "Why did you camera me? (sic)" He said the traffic warden grabbed his trousers threatening to deal with him, while calling on his colleagues to join him.

He added that "Just about five minutes later his (the traffic warden's) colleagues came in a van, they parked, and I saw five policemen led by an inspector walking towards me."

He said the policemen dragged him down from the motor bike and into their waiting van where they threatened him telling him "We will deal with you and by the time we are done with you, you will never snap a policeman again."

He said that after introducing himself as a journalist, they asked for the photograph he had taken and when they saw the shot, they were angry.

Enemali said he heard a radio conversation, with the policeman telling someone they had captured a 'Boko Haram' suspect and were bringing him to the station, whereupon he said he jumped down from the van, but they all jumped down too and descended on him.

It was at that point he started shouting for help saying he was a journalist and not a Boko Haram member.

He said that he resisted them for over 40 minutes during which time they battered him kicking him with boots, gun butts, and batons.

He said he continued to resist the policemen until "the inspector used the base of his gun on my head, and one of them slapped me and blinded me, I fell to the ground with blood coming out of my nose and was so weak."

They took him to 'A' Division where they left him and by the time he regained consciousness, his phone, N25, 000.00 (about US$157), his wrist watch, one of his sandals and his ipad were missing.

He also suffered a broken nose, a fractured finger, as well as head, eye and back injuries and finds it difficult to walk in daylight without dark glasses.

Enemali has vowed to sue the Nigerian Police to challenge the violation of his rights and is seeking the assistance of human right lawyers to do so.

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