Members of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, today staged a protest against the brutalisation of Leadership newspaper’s photojournalist, Benedict Uwalaka, threatening to institute legal action against the culprits.
Uwalaka was attacked by mortuary attendants at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH , last Thursday while former Photo Editor of Nigerian Compass newspaper, Mr. Tunde Ogundeji and Photo Editor, TheNEWS/P.M.NEWS, Mr. Idowu Ogunleye were similarly brutalised by hoodlums at the Ikeja railway terminus on Monday.
Speaking at the Ladi Lawal Press Centre, Ikeja today, Chairman, Lagos State NUJ, Mr. Deji Elumoye condemned the attacks on journalists who were performing their lawful duties.
Elumoye said: “Enough is enough! We have had enough of brutalisation of journalists on their beats. The National President of the NUJ is aware of our stand. We have informed our lawyer to commence criminal proceedings against the attackers.”
After the chairman’s address, they continued their protest with a visit to Lagos State Governor’s office where they sought audience with the state governor, Babatunde Fashola.
The journalists protested peacefully carrying placards with various inscriptions such as ‘Journalists Are Friends, Not Foes,’ ‘We Must Resist These Brutality,’ ‘Lagos Journalists Say No To Public Assault Of Members. Enough Is Enough,’ ‘SSS, Police, General Public, Stop These Assaults On Nigerian Journalists’.
According to them, the assaults had become too much and needed to be curtailed by everyone in the state and country.
A journalist, Tokunbo Babs-Olurinde, said they stormed the Government House to make the State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, know they would no longer take it lightly with with anyone who harasses journalists in the course of their duties.
Mrs. Babs-Olurinde recalled that within one week, two journalists were assaulted in the state with one of them almost beaten to coma.
She also called for the strengthening of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Law for the protection of journalists in the country.
Speaking also, the Secretary of the NUJ, Lagos , Silver Emeka Okereke, described it as one brutality too many.
He further lamented that journalists had become endangered species even though they are described as the Fourth Estate of the Realm.
“The three others in the estate are constantly protected by the security agencies, but for us, we are left to our fate.
As at the time of this report, no government official had addressed the protesters as it was learnt that the governor and some government officials in the state had travelled for the lesser Hajj.