Friday, November 8, 2019 12:42 am
The Nigerian Presidency on Thursday apologized to the photo journalist, Abayomi Adesida who was physically assaulted by security operatives attached to the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during an event at Aso Rock president villa early Thursday.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on media and publicity, Laolu Akande, who gave the apology on his twitter handle wrote “the needless scuffle btw a villa accredited photographer, Mr. Adeshida & one of our security aides earlier today has since been resolved. Incident is regretted & I have apologized to him for any embarrassment caused.”
It was however not clear if the office of the Vice President had contacted the journalist who described the attack on him by the security operatives as unprovoked.
Narrating his experience to journalists, Adeshida said he was taking photograph 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 magazine as 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 sever 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.
No other aides of the Vice-President made efforts to stop the humiliation of the journalist in the presence of Osibanjo, who may have been embarrassed by the situation.
Meanwhile, outrage has continued over the attack on the journalist.
The Nigerian Union of Journalists, FCT Council, in a statement on Thursday described the assault as one of the sad developments that signposts how dangerous it was to be a journalist in Nigeria especially in the past four years.
“The brutal physical assault by security details of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo against one of our members in the legitimate pursuit of his duties as a journalist further signposts how dangerous it is to be a journalist in Nigeria, especially in the last four years,” a statement signed by chairman of the council, Emmanuel Ogbeche, read.
“On a day in which Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists for security operatives to unashamedly batter a journalist in the presence of the vice president speaks to how troubling and dark Nigeria has descended into.
“We are still at a loss as to why operatives of the DSS, not like they are some street urchins, had to behave in such a despicable manner should send shivers down the spine of every reasonable Nigerian. We are however comforted by the fact that journalists in Nigeria have seen more terrible days and survived and would definitely outlast every vestige of jackboot and intimidation by state and non-state actors,” the statement further read.
Ogbeche called on Vice President to initiate an immediate probe into the unfortunate situation, while in the interim, Mr. Adeshida’s damaged camera is replaced as well as his full medical bills undertaken by the federal government.
“While we demand an immediate probe into the ugly incident with a view for disciplinary measures against all those involved in this clear abuse on a journalist and journalism, we call on Vice President Osinbajo to order for the replacement of Mr. Adeshida’s damaged camera as well as settle his medical expenses.
“However, the council will explore other avenues including legal remedy against these individuals that have further endangered press freedom and safety of journalists in Nigeria.”
The NUJ chairman urged journalists in the country not to be deterred in the performance of their duties while upholding the ethics of the profession.