HURIWA Condemns Attacks on Journalists, Says It Demonstrates Intolerance of Pluralism

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  • Asks brutalised journalist to seek a payment of N10 billion damages

One of Nigeria’s leading civil right advocacy groups, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described the growing incidence of violent attacks and jailing of journalists by government as a demonstration of the deteriorating state of constitutional democracy in Nigeria.

HURIWA has also expressed shock and consternation that the National Assembly rather than live up to the expectation of Nigerians and make laws for the good governance of the Country has turned full throttle into a willing tool of the oppressive executive arm of government to literally manufacture hurriedly written draconian legislations to undermine the enjoyment by citizens of their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms including freedom of expression and access to the Social media.

The organisation spoke against the backdrop of the report of the physical brutality by the Department of State Services (DSS) attached to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on the journalist working for Vanguard Newspaper at the state house Abuja Mr. Abayomi Adeshida and the destruction of his working gadgets just as the rights group has asked the United Nations; president of the United States of America Mr. Donald Trump and the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau to mount pressure on the Nigerian state to halt the violence against political opponents and journalists immediately.

In a statement by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA unambiguously affirmed that there is a well-choreographed and coordinated attacks directed against the media by government which according to the rights group shows the growing desperation of government officials to beat back on critical voices so as to hide the clear failures of governance at all levels.

“Nigeria is currently buffeted by all kinds of violence and attacks targeting purveyors of information and persons seen by the Federal and state government officials as independent-minded and because of the growing intolerance of plurality of opinions, holders of political power have unleashed brute force of state security forces to maintain the hook on power. The primary reason for this spate of attacks on the press is the high rate of official corruption by politically exposed persons in Nigeria.”

HURIWA also condemned the National Assembly for completely becoming an appendage of the totalitarian executive and for playing the slavish card of attempting to roll out a badly written legislation to gag the social media and to jail opponents of the current government. The group described the bill before the National Assembly to whittle down access to social media as a mere tissue of lies and draconian decree rebaptised as legislation.

The Rights group has therefore advocated active vigilance by the masses to frustrate the plots of just a few Nigerians wielding temporary political power to emasculate constitutional freedoms and to try to enslave all of us. HURIWA stated that if the populace maintains the status quo of lassaire faire, then we may as well be prepared to sing nunc dimitis to democracy and be prepared to become slaves in a one-party dictatorship.

HURIWA recalled that a photojournalist with the Vanguard Newspapers, attached to the Aso Rock Villa, Mr Abayomi Adeshida, was on Thursday morning beaten up by security details of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

HURIWA recalled too that the incident took place at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja during the opening session of the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit organized by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission NiDCOM, chaired by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

HURIWA citing available body of knowledge quoted the brutalised journalist as narrating his experience to journalists and saying that he was taking photographs of the Vice-President taking a tour of the exhibition stands at the event, when five personnel of the Department of State Services (DSS) suddenly pounced on him as Osinbajo was being presented a copy of the magazine as a souvenir at a particular stand.

“Adeshida said he was not told his supposed infraction as he was not in any way obstructing the event or doing anything out of the ordinary before the security details started hitting him, dragged him over the floor and damaged his professional camera, right in the presence of the Vice-President.

“I was shocked when these DSS started beating me for no apparent reason. They tore off my Presidential Villa accreditation tag on the shirt and dragged me on the floor while hitting me and kicking me.”

“I believe they would have done much worse if not for the intervention of the Vice-President’s Aide-de-Camp (ADC), who I noticed was making hand movements for them to leave me alone.

“I am feeling pains all over my body and a particular severe pain on my right leg on which I don’t even know what they hit me with”, the Adeshida before he headed for the hospital for treatment.

HURIWA condemned this brutality and lamented that information reaching it says that no other aides of the Vice-President made efforts to stop the humiliation of the journalist in the presence of Osinbajo, who may have been embarrassed by the situation just as the incident happened a day after 35 aides of the Vice-President were bye reported sacked on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is away on a private visit to the United Kingdom.

HURIWA has therefore asked the victimized journalist to head to court to seek for redress and to demand for a N10 billion damage from the office of the Vice President.




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