Dakar – The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), a journalists forum, on Friday in Dakar, demanded protection for journalists from Nigeria’s security agencies.
This followed the stabbing of Charles Erukaa of the privately-owned Channels Television while covering a political rally
In a statement, the body also urged political party affiliates and other actors to recognise media’s role in democracy and peace-building and accordingly desist from attacking journalists.
According to the press freedom watchdog, Erukaa was stabbed by an unknown person while covering a political rally organised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) at Okrika, Rivers State on Feb. 16.
“During the event there were several explosions and gunshots. Following this, the crowd was dispersed and the attackers began to loot.
“It was during this period that Erukaa was stabbed,” the statement noted.
Erukaa said that some of the attackers, who have been looting the property of people who had provided the public address system, suddenly surrounded him.
“They tried to take my phone away from me on the suspicion that I was actually calling reinforcement to come pick them up.
“So, in the scuffle, I got stabbed in the neck,’’ Erukaa was quoted as saying.
It was revealed that dozens of people were injured in the attack including two security officials who had been deployed there to maintain law and order and it was unclear as to who was behind the attack.
Meanwhile, the chairman of Rivers State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Opaka Dokubo, threatened that journalists in the Okrika Area may boycott coverage of the upcoming elections.
MFWA also pointed out that the NUJ said unless authorities implement adequate safety measures, they would not participate.
Opaka was said to have made the comments during a working visit to the Resident Election Commissioner (REC) of Nigeria’s Independent National Election Commission (INEC) on Feb. 18.
Reacting to the attack on journalists at the APC rally in Okrika, Opaka said journalists were always at the forefront of both war and crime situations without any form of security.
“As journalists, we do not carry arms, all that we have is the biro and the cameras you see here, but we are always at the forefront of the battlefield.
“We do not have bullet proofs; we do not have any form of security,” Opaka said.