A cameraman with Arise Television, Francis Ogbonna and a journalist with Premium Times, Ebuka Onyeji, were on October 11, 2020 assaulted while covering a news conference where Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu announced the dissolution of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS), a notorious unit of the Nigerian Police.
According to Ferdinand Duruoha, another crew member of Arise TV, Ogbonna was hit several times on the head and his camera destroyed, while he (Duruoha) took to his heels after being intimidated.
Duruoha said he fled after hearing orders of “Shoot him! shoot him!” The crew was interviewing protesters who had gathered at the Police headquarters.
“Police pounced on anyone they could, with Ogbonna, one of many injured,” Duruoha said
A video recording by Duruoha later showed Ogbonna’s injuries, which resulted in blood gushing out of his head.
Ebuka Onyeji was also assaulted by police officers while covering the same #EndSARS protest in Abuja.
Onyeji reported how police fired teargas canisters at the protesters, who were marching in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, demanding the scrapping of the notorious police unit, FSARS.
He said he witnessed how protesters were violently dispersed with teargas and water cannons. Some of the police officers then alighted from their vehicles and chased the protesters including journalists covering the protest. Some of the protesters were beaten with huge sticks and iron bars by the police officers.
Onyeji, along with some activists were chased down and beaten too. This is despite Mr Onyeji clearly identifying himself as a journalist.
“God punish you, journalists,” one of the officers said as he swung a big stick at the reporter aiming for his head.
The reporter was only able to block some of the hits with his hand as he ran away to avoid further beatings.
Meanwhile, the International Press Centre, IPC, Lagos, has condemned the unwarranted assault and attack by officers of the Nigeria police on the journalists.
IPC Executive Director, Mr. Lanre Arogundade said, “We condemn the attack on the journalist while carrying out his legitimate duty of covering a protest.”
IPC, therefore, called on the IGP to intervene and ensure that the culprit is punished in accordance with the provisions of the law.