Nigeria: Journalists arrested in court, beaten up

In a shocking incident, a group of 12 Nigerian journalists covering court proceedings in a case were beaten up by policemen in Lagos.

Abuja: In a shocking incident, a group of 12
Nigerian journalists covering court proceedings in a case were
ordered arrested by a magistrate and later beaten up by
policemen in the country`s economic capital of Lagos.

The journalists who were covering a case of the death of
several people in a car crash also lost their cameras and
phones in the incident yesterday.

One of the journalists, Akintunde Akinwale, who reports
for the influential Thisday newspaper told PTI that the group
was in court to hear a coroner inquest when a prosecutor named
A A Oshoniyi ordered them to leave the premises.

"While we attempted to make her understand why we were at
the court, the magistrate came down from her seat and screamed
that we be arrested," he said.

"Do you know where you are at all? Arrest them all. Go and
lock up all of them," she screamed and the police were brought

The police were led by a woman officer named Mariam Joseph
who ordered that a reporter for local television station,
Silverbird be beaten up.

A scuffle ensued between some workers at the premises and
the other journalists.

"We were later conveyed by the police in a bus to a
station where they detained us for some hours," Akinwale said.
The journalists were later released when members of the
Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) came to the police station to
plead on their behalf.

"The temperament of the magistrate is suspect, her
competence to administer justice without emotional involvement
is doubtful," a media advocacy group, Journalists for
Democratic Rights, (JODER) said through its spokesman,
Kehinde Adegbuyi.

The case which the journalists went to report has to do
with an accident which killed several persons along a busy
road, suspected to be caused by policemen taking bribes along
the road.

Journalists work under a very harsh environment in the oil
rich African country.

Assassination of reporters is common while arbitrary
arrests and brutalisation is common.

Police spokesman for Lagos state did not respond to
questions pertaining to the maltreatment of the media men.