Officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), yesterday, beat up three photo-journalists in the course of their legitimate duties in Abuja.
The victims are Olu Aremo of LEADERSHIP Newspapers; Olatunji Obasa of Punch Newspapers and Mudashiru Atanda of The Sun Newspapers.
The incident, which happened at the headquarters of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in Abuja, led to the destruction a camera belonging to Obasa.
Speaking, one of the photo-journalists, Aremo of LEADERSHIP, said they visited the NIMC office to cover the ongoing registration of Nigerians and saw an uncontrollable crowd, which led to the closure of the commission’s gate with both staff and those seeking for the registration locked outside.
According to Aremo, “Minutes after 12pm, we were taking some pictures only to be manhandled by the security officers of the NSCDC stationed in the NIMC office.
“I was standing by when suddenly I saw a security personnel attacking Tunji Obasa, the Punch photographer, dragging his camera. We rushed there to inquire what happened but instead, the security personnel started dragging the camera of the Sun newspaper photographer, Mudashiru Atanda.
“As they were struggling, the DSS operatives joined the melee that ensued and grabbed my own camera too and took it to the Public Relations Officer of NIMC and deleted all the pictures after damaging the Punch camera worth over N750,000,” Aremo explained.
Meanwhile, the Photo Journalists Association of Nigeria (PJAN), Abuja chapter, has condemned the attack on its members.
PJAN secretary, who is also the secretary of the Correspondents Chapel in FCT, Jide Oyekunle, described the attack as unfortunate.
“We’ve gone to the NIMC headquarters and interfaced with the head and officials of the corporate affairs department with a commitment from them of replacing the damaged camera of the affected journalist,” he said.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the FCT Command of NSCDC, has vowed stiff sanctions for any of its officers indicted in the harassment of the photo-journalists at the premises of the NIMC headquarters.
Reacting to the incident through its public relations officer (PRO), David Akinbinu, the command said it has since withdrawn all officers initially deployed to the NIMC office.
Akinbubu, who apologised to all the affected journalists, on behalf of the Commandant promised that the errant officers would be prosecuted after investigation.
“I want to assure the public as well as the journalists involved that if found wanting, the affected officers would not go unpunished. In fact, appropriate sanctions would be meted out to them to serve as a deterrent to others,” he said.
The PRO, who further revealed that his boss has ordered for a thorough investigation to unravel the circumstances that led to the costly mistake, seized the opportunity to warn all officers and men of the Corps to put up a more responsible and patriotic attitude towards their professional calling and desist from such behaviours that could drag the good name of the organisation through the mud.