by Juliana K. Tauna, Kaduna
The alleged unprovoked physical assault on two identified BBC journalists, in Enugu State recently, by a Catholic Priest, Father Ejike Mbaka, and some of his members have be condemned by the International Press Centre, IPC, Lagos-Nigeria.
The identified journalists include Chioma Obianinwa and Nnamdi Agbanelo. Their names, which appeared in media reports, including that of BBC News (Pidgin) of December 10, 2020, stated that the BBC crew had scheduled an interview with Father Mbaka and, that, while waiting outside of the premises to be called in for the interview, a group of 20 men, along with Fr. Mbaka, surrounded them and were physically and verbally brutalized.
According to the report, the journalists were earlier said to have been issued death threats “for writing negative reports” about the priest.
It was further reported that they narrowly escaped after
being chased out
of the premises by the men, who also closely trailed them till they left the
Although, a spokesperson for Fr. Mbaka’s Adoration Ministry, Mr. Maximus Ugwuoke, said the entire Adoration family was not aware of the presence of the BBC team on the ground with the mission to interview Mbaka on that fateful day.
IPC Executive Director, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, in a statement, signed by the centre’s Communications Officer, Olutoyin Ayoade, stated that “the allegation is deserving a thorough investigation by the Police.
“Journalists in Nigeria have become highly endangered
species, and it is
important to get to the root of this matter so that the alleged perpetrators can be made to face the law and serve as a deterrent to others,” Mr. Arogundade stressed.
According to him, assault constitutes a grave offence under the Nigerian Law and is punishable by virtue of the provisions of the Criminal Code Act.
He added that any assault on journalists, who ensure that important information is accessible to citizens, is an attack on their human, journalistic and democratic rights and should always be condemned.
“The Executive Director, therefore, enjoins the Enugu State Commissioner of Police to take swift measures to investigate in detail the reported attacks and ensure that justice is administered.”