An Abuja-based journalist with The PUNCH Newspaper, Friday Olokor, has been allegedly brutalized by men of the Nigeria Police Force and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The incident, which took place at an event centre in the central area of Abuja on Thursday, has generated strong condemnation, with many journalists describing it as barbaric.
According to a Facebook’s post by one Fred Itua, which narrated Olokor’s version of the incident, the journalist was said to have been accosted by a police officer at the venue of the event, who queried his appearance without a tag.
The exchanges between Olokor and the policeman attracted other security officers in the area, leading to the alleged physical abuse of the journalist.
“We were invited to cover a panel of discussion at the ongoing African Council of Women Conference with the theme: Factors and driver of Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria, organised by the DRPC, under the Ford Foundation.
“I drove to the venue, M & M Events Centre, Abuja, close to NICON Luxury in Central Business District. After introducing myself, the Mopol stopped me at the gate and said I should get entrance tag. I told him I can only get the tag from the people who invited me. Still, he refused. I had to call Patience Ihejirika of Leadership Newspapers who came, gave me my tag.
“Yet, the police officer was complaining that we journalists are the problem of Nigeria. I turned and asked him why do security agencies hate journalists? He started abusing me and said if not he was on uniform, he would have taught me a big lesson. Seeing him, you could tell he’s frustrated.
“He said I wasn’t going in. It was during this time that the DSS operatives pounded me, tore my shirts. One of them tried severally to clear me, but I was jumping. They were joined by police officers. They said I should sit down, I stood up. I was handcuffed! They seized the phone belonging to Patience Ihejirika, deleted the videos and photos of the incident, while one of the police officers threatened to beat her up.
“I called a senior officer in DSS who happened to be my friend right from school. Even when he tried to speak with them, they refused. ‘Tell him we’re not talking with him. Olokor, I’m from Delta, when we get home, we discuss man to man’, one of them said. One wonders whether there’s no discipline in the DSS.
“An Assistant Director called to plead with a promise that they would been summoned to write a report of what happened. I’ve reported the matter to my bosses,” Olokor was quoted to have said.
The generated immediate reactions from fellow journalists.
“This is sad! Journalists are just doing their job and they should be left alone. They are not in anyway the problem of this country,” Terkula Igidi, a journalist said.
“Olokor, I thank God that it happened in the open. Owing to their aversion for journalists, there is no limit to the arm they can inflict on Media practitioners,” said another journalist, John Ofikhena.
“Journalists are the problems of Nigeria? And you, police, are what? The solution?” another Facebook user, Chima Nwankwo said.