IMS Warns Attack On Media A Threat To Freedom Of Expression 

Yemisi Izuora

The Institute for Media and Society, IMS, has noted with great worry, the unleashing of terror on media organisations and the wanton destruction of property during in Lagos during the #ENDSARS protests.

On Wednesday, 21 October 2020, several notable media organisations in Lagos State were attacked.

The Television Continental, popularly called TVC, Max Radio, The Nation Newspaper and Lagos Television were attacked by hoodlums with offices of TVC and the Nation Newspaper set ablaze by the hoodlums.

Also, the Lagos Television, LTV, was attacked with cars within the premises damaged.

“We also received reports of journalists being attacked while on duty covering the protests. Ayo Makinde of Channels TV was attacked by hoodlums while reporting live the setting ablaze of TVC office in Ketu, Lagos. We also note that two Punch Newspaper journalists Segun Odunayo and Femi Daudu were attacked while covering the protest at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa. These attacks are totally uncalled for.

“While we support peaceful protests by citizens, a constitutionally- recognized right, we are opposed to the violation of people’s rights, including attacks on media organisations and their workers.

“We like to state a reminder that the media are an important and indispensable institution in our country. Little wonder that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria mandates it to monitor governance on behalf of the people.” IMS said in a statement.

It said, “Attack on the media, in any form, is an attack on the performance of this function as it is a derogation on the right of individual journalists and other media workers.

“It is common knowledge that the media have done well in the coverage of the #ENDSARS protests. The coverage has been generally rich and professional.

“Our take is that the media deserve commendation and encouragement to take this quality of coverage to greater heights rather than being brought down as the attackers have done during the past few days.”

The task of strengthening the media at this time is one that must be done, with stakeholders playing various roles, the Institute said.

The IMS therefore demanded that Government open an investigation into these cases of attack and destruction, and ensure that perpetrators of these acts against media houses and their workers are brought to justice, and visit the affected media organisations, assess the scale of damage and support them to re-build and return to operations.

The IMS also charged security agencies to fish out the perpetrators of the attacks, follow up with sanctions and provide appropriate remedies to the media houses and journalists whose rights have been violated by their(security agencies’) operatives during the #ENDSARS protest, guarantee and provide security for media organisations as well as educate their operatives to appreciate the role of the media in crisis resolution and to work with them in achieving peace and development.

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