- Nigerian journalists celebrate the World Press Freedom Day with bitter pills. They are concerned about the life of their colleague, Dare Folorunso, who has been battling with survival on his hospital bed after police in the south-western state of Ondo severely manhandled him at a May Day rally.
His assailants include the deputy Commander in the area, Joshua Mumbo, accused him of shooting “offensive” video of female police officers.
Dare Folorunso, a journalist of the state-owned Ondo State Radiovision Corporation (OSRC), was beaten at the entrance of the Akure Stadium where as he attempted to take photos of the rally.
A policeman, who barred him from taking photos, tried to grab is camera, even though he kept explaining that he was a journalist. When Folorunso became defensive, other policemen intervened and began raining batons on him.
The wild police officers did not spare other journalists who tried to bail out their colleague from being manhandled.
Eyewitnesses said Joshua Mumbo hit him several times on the head with a baton.
Dare Folorunso’s assailants did stop their merciless act until when they realised that he was bleeding profusely and lost consciousness. He was left to struggle on his own for hours before an assistant Commissioner of Police, Michael Bodunde, ordered him to be taken to State Specialist Hospital where doctors confirmed that he is still alive, although in a coma.
The Paris-based media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, expressed anger and shock on the beating. The group said the election campaign has created a very difficult climate for press in Nigeria where many violent and physical attacks on journalists have intensified.
“The Nigerian authorities must take measures to ensure that these attacks are punished,” the press freedom body urged.
Also condemning the act is the Director of the International Federation of Journalists Africa office, Gabriel Baglo.
“We firmly condemn this inhumane beating and we call on the Ondo State government to conduct an independent investigation on this action,” he said, expressing hope that the beaten journalist would soon recover from coma.
The IFJ urges the Nigerian government to take strong measures to stop the repeated attacks on media workers by security forces and to bring the perpetrators of such attacks to justice.
“In recognition of the World Press Freedom Day we call on the government to ensure that journalists can work safely and freely in Nigeria,” Mr Baglo said
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