Nigeria: Journalists arrested in court, beaten up

Nigeria: Journalists arrested in court, beaten up 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 in.

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.