Attack On Media Houses and Journalists Portends Greater Danger

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The Institute for Media and Society, IMS, has noted with great worry, the unleashing of terror on media organisations and the wanton destruction of property in Lagos during the #ENDSARS protests. The media NGO in its statement was reacting to the ongoing looting and destruction of private and public property in the aftermath of the reported killing of some #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos on the night of Tuesday, October 20, 2020

On Wednesday, the next day, when a rampaging horde went through the city following the reported killing, several notable media organisations in Lagos State were attacked. Television Continental, popularly called TVC; Max Radio; The Nation Newspaper and Lagos Television were attacked by hoodlums with offices of TVC and the Nation Newspaper set ablaze by the hoodlums. Lagos Television, LTV, was attacked with cars within the premises damaged.

Executive Director of the organization, Dr Akin Akingbulu, said: “We also received reports of journalists being attacked while on duty covering the protests. Ayo Makinde of Channels TV was attacked by hoodlums while reporting live the setting ablaze of TVC office in Ketu, Lagos. We also note that two Punch Newspaper journalists Segun Odunayo and Femi Daudu were attacked while covering the protest at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa. These attacks are totally uncalled for.

While we support peaceful protests by citizens, a constitutionally- recognized right, we are opposed to the violation of people’s rights, including attacks on media organisations and their workers.

According to him, the media are an important and indispensable institution in our country, adding that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria mandates it to monitor governance on behalf of the people.

He said; “Attack on the media, in any form, is an attack on the performance of this function as it is a derogation on the right of individual journalists and other media workers.

It is common knowledge that the media have done well in the coverage of the #ENDSARS protests. The coverage has been generally rich and professional.

Our take is that the media deserve commendation and encouragement to take this quality of coverage to greater heights rather than being brought down as the attackers have done during the past few days.

In his considered view, the task of strengthening the media at this time is one that must be done, with stakeholders playing various roles. He therefore called on all

Stakeholders, namely the government, security agencies, industry professional and civil society groups, the media, and journalists to play the following roles as a matter of urgency:

The Government:

1. Launch an investigation into these cases of attack and destruction, and ensure that perpetrators of these acts against media houses and their workers are brought to justice.

2. Visit the affected media organisations, assess the scale of damage, and support them to rebuild and return to operations.

The Security Agencies:

1. Fish out the perpetrators of the attacks, follow up with sanctions and provide appropriate remedies to the media houses and journalists whose rights have been violated by their (security agencies’) operatives during the #ENDSARS protest.

2. Guarantee and provide security for media organisations.

3. Educate their operatives to appreciate the role of the media in crisis resolution and to work with them in achieving peace and development.

Industry Professional and Civil Society Groups:

1. Give solidarity to the affected media outlets and journalists

2. Conduct a collaborative assessment of the damage done to the affected media organizations.


3. Develop an industry Response or strategy informed by the assessment.

4. Continue to support the media in strengthening professionalism, particularly at this time.

The Media and Journalists:

1. Remain consistent in Professionalism despite the challenges of this period.

2. Prioritise safety consciousness and measures at all times.

QUOTE 1: “While we support peaceful protests by citizens, a constitutionally- recognized right, we are opposed to the violation of people’s rights, including attacks on media organizations and their workers.

QUOTE 2 “It is common knowledge that the media have done well in the coverage of the #ENDSARS protests. The coverage has been generally rich and professional.

Our take is that the media deserve commendation and encouragement to take this quality of coverage to greater heights rather than being brought down as the attackers have done during the past few days.

 

Dr Akin Akingbulu

Executive Director: Institute for Media and Society