Men of the Oyo State Police Command on Tuesday attacked and physically inflicted bodily injury on a Silverbird News24 reporter while on assignment in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
The journalist, John Alabi, while narrating his ordeal after spending about five hours in police detention behind the counter displayed his bruised face.
Alabi explained that the policemen numbering about five attacked him while taking photos and making video of them when they were dispersing a rowdy crowd, adding that they took away his phone and prevented him from calling his office.
Alabi narrated that “There was mayhem, so as journalists, we are supposed to report incidents. The next thing I did was to use my phone and take pictures of how things were unveiling and how police personnel were trying to curtail the incident.
“The next thing I noticed was like five police officers pounced on me, telling me that I was recording them. They beat me with baseball batons and their police batons and I think someone hit me with a butt of a gun too.
“While they were beating me, I kept telling them that I’m a journalist but they beat me and injured me a few meters from my eye. They wanted to lock me up but later put me behind the counter. They collected my phone immediately.
“That was about 10:30a.m and around 3:30p.m, I pleaded with someone that I wanted to call my wife to tell her where I am. Immediately I collected the phone, the first thing was to snap my picture because I noticed they might ask me to clean up everything so that there won’t be evidence. I snapped the pictures and posted them on the Oyo NUJ (Nigeria Union of Journalist) platform and some other platforms.
“My sin (crime) is that I was taking pictures and recording short videos of police officers that were dispersing the crowd. That was what they said I did, that why should I be taking pictures, and I told them that I’m a journalist. I even showed them my ID card. I was holding the flag of my station which was on my mic that was with me which was very glaring that I am a journalist.
“When they beat me, my clothes were soaked with blood.”
Reacting to the incident, the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said the action of the officers sounded archaic.
Adejobi, while saying that the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, CP Adebowale Williams, must have acted on the matter.
“This is serious. I am sure the CP Oyo, Adebowale Williams, must have acted on this. This sounds archaic because it’s been a long time since I heard such. Police brutalise journalist on line of duty. Anyway, we are bound to have exceptional cases like this. Police and press are the same o,” the Force spokesperson said.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Oyo State Police Command on the matter failed as calls made to the Command’s public relations officer, SP Adewale Osifeso, did not go through as the number was not reachable. Also, the Oyo State Police Command has not made an official statement on the matter at the time of filing this report.