Police Brutality: Coalition Calls for Investigation Over Assault on Journalist

The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has condemned the unlawful arrest and detention of Daily Times journalist, Gabriel Idibia, by the Kaduna State Police Command.

The Coalition also called for a thorough investigation into the circumstances that led to the unlawful arrest and detention of Idibia while carrying out lawful journalism practice.

CWPPF Secretariat, in a statement sent to WikkiTimes on Saturday, explained that Idibia was arrested on June 11 while taking pictures of a herd of cattle being escorted by police officers on Kachia expressway. Despite identifying himself as a journalist, he was beaten, detained, and had his phone and ID card seized by the police.

The statement reads partly “We find it rather disturbing that men of the Nigeria Police Force not only arrested Mr. Idibia unlawfully but also resorted to assaulting him for simply performing his constitutionally guaranteed duties as a journalist. This is certainly not a practice welcomed in a democratic state like Nigeria and it stands condemned in strong terms.

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“We urge the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kayode Egbetokun, to ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted into the matter and  that all officers involved in the unlawful arrest and assault of Mr Gabriel Idibia be made to face the appropriate legal sanctions.

“The attack on Mr. Idibia is a violation of his fundamental human rights. It also constitutes an outright infringement on press freedom and the public’s rights to information and expression.

Further Threats

“Mr Idibia has further alleged that the Police has threatened to indict and label him a bandit.”

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The coalition, representing media and civil society organizations including WikkiTimes, Premium Times, Daily Trust, International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), and others, quoted Idibia in a statement as saying“On getting to the police station, one of the officers who brought me to the station punched me in the face, and hit one of my eyes, leaving me almost blinded.”

In a phone conversation with the Centre for Journalism, Innovation and Development (CJID), Spokesperson of the Kaduna State Police Command, ASP Mansir Hassan said he saw no sign of assault on Mr Idibia when the journalist met him in his office after he was released.

He however did not deny his unlawful arrest and detainment, “He was eventually granted bail on self-recognition”, he told the CJID in a phone conversation.

Other Incidents

The attack on Idibia is a violation of his human rights and press freedom and highlights the dangers journalists face in Nigeria. CWPPF urges the Inspector General of Police to ensure the protection of journalists and the public’s right to information.

The arrest of Idibia came barely a month after Mr. Dayo Aiyetan, Executive Director and Founder of the ICIR, and a reporter were detained by the Police.

WikkiTimes reports that at least 14 Nigerian journalists have been arrested and detained so far by state actors since Tinubu’s inauguration in May 2023.

President Bola Tinubu, in his Democracy Day broadcast earlier on June 12 extolled journalists for their contribution to democracy.

However, despite praises to the media, journalists continued to feel the peril of impunity by state actors under his watch and press freedoms being stifled.

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