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Increased attacks on journalists during governorship/state assembly elections

A man writes slogans on a placard on the sidelines of a demonstration held to protest against the suspension of governorship elections in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, 11 March 2019
A man writes slogans on a placard on the sidelines of a demonstration held to protest against the suspension of governorship elections in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, 11 March 2019

PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on ipc.ng on 11 March 2019.

The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos has once again condemned reported incidents of attacks on journalists and other media professionals during the Governorship and State Assembly elections held on Saturday March 9, 2019.

IPC Director, Mr. Lanre Arogundade said: "It was particularly worrisome that there was an increase in the attacks on journalists during the Governorship and State Assembly elections when compared with the Presidential and Senatorial elections which held two weeks ago. This is despite calls by IPC and other media groups on electoral stakeholders and security agencies to ensure a safe environment for journalists to carry out their responsibilities during the elections."

He said further that, "The rights of journalists to monitor and report election activities as guaranteed by various regulatory frameworks such as the Electoral Act, the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage have not been respected as expected."

The IPC Director therefore called on all concerned security agencies and INEC to carry out immediate investigations with a view to prosecuting or sanctioning the alleged perpetrators of the attacks against the concerned journalists and media professionals.

Information gathered by IPC's media and election situation room revealed that several journalists and media professionals faced one form of harassment or the other including physical assault, abduction, denial of access to cover election proceedings, etc.

The details of these incidents include:

Delta State

Over 250 duly accredited journalists were ordered to be barred by the Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC from accessing the premises and covering election events in the commission. Only those whose names were on a different list put together by the commission were given access to cover election events.

Edo State

Collins Ossai of Channels television was barred by political thugs from covering the elections in Central Primary School, Iruekpe, Esan Central Local Government Area, Edo state.

Lagos State

BBC Africa Pidgin Reporter, Ajoke was slapped by a politician, Segun Adewale, over her coverage of vote buying at Pleasure bus stop polling booth, near Lagos - Abeokuta expressway.

About 15 thugs attacked Benjamin Alade of The Guardian while he took pictures and video of protesting National Youth Corp members, who were owed allowances at a collation centre situated at the Community Primary School in Idimu area of Lagos.

Kaduna State

Amos Tauna of the Daily Post and a group of journalists were physically assaulted close to Zonkwa police station by political thugs in Kaduna state, while covering the irregularities being perpetrated by the politicians and their thugs. Their phones, cameras and other personal belongings were seized and destroyed.

Plateau State

Kunle Sanni, a Premium Times journalist was abducted by political thugs for taking pictures of alleged underage voters at a polling unit of Governor Simon Lalong in Plateau state. He was later released after he was forced to delete the pictures.

Yobe State

Soldiers at ORO3, Union bank formation in Damaturu, Yobe state, confiscated the journalists' car and kept them hostage for hours. The journalists are Musa Mingye of Blueprint and Hamisu Kabir Matazu of Daily Trust, who were using their personal vehicles with an INEC approved sticker, INEC's reflective jackets, INEC issued Identification cards and the company's ID cards. The heavily-armed military men threatened to resort to brutality if the journalists insisted on leaving the location to continue their election duty.

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