By Adekola Afolabi
Journalists in Ondo State yesterday joined their colleagues nationwide to stage a peaceful protest against what they called impunity and crimes against them by overzealous security agencies in the country.
The peaceful protest held at the Alagbaka NUJ Secretariat, Akure, was led by the state Chairman of the Council, Mr James Sowole.
To express their displeasure against the impunity by security agents, the journalists armed themselves with placards with various inscriptions such as, NUJ says no to attack on members by security agents; enough is enough, stop harassing journalists; journalists not threat to national security; enough is enough, FG must support Press Freedom; Buhari must stop DSS, Police from harassing journalists; pressmen are not enemies of security agents, among others.
The state chairman of the council, Comrade James Sowole, explained the protest was in line with the directive of the National Secretariat of the NUJ that all journalists in Nigeria should embark on the protest to register their displeasure against the impunity and crimes being perpetrated against journalists in the country by security agents.
According to him, while discharging their lawful duties, journalists are being molested, harassed, attacked, arrested and detained by the security agents without trial. The chairman called on the security agencies to respect the sanctity of law and respect journalists whenever they are doing their job.
He gave an example of a journalist in Bayelsa State who was arrested and detained for two years until NUJ waded in and the man was arraigned in court and granted bail, describing the development as against the rule of law and a clear violation of the fundamental human rights.
Sowole noted that journalists are not criminals and should not be treated as one, saying that journalists in the country are doing their job as prescribed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We Say no to harassment by the police, we say no to harassment by the DSS. We say no to harassment by the NSCDC, and we say no to harassment by employers of labour who in the name of freelancing or anything do not pay journalists their salaries. We say no to crimes and impunity against journalists. Journalists are human beings and they should be treated like human beings”, he stressed.
He also condemned the bad attitude of some media outfits owners for their failure to pay their workforce who are daily working for them. He called for enhanced welfare of journalists across the country
Earlier, the state Secretary of the union, Comrade Leke Adegbite disclosed that the NUJ members are not happy with the way and manner Nigeria security agents are treating journalists in the discharge of their lawful duties, adding that press freedom is under serious threat in the country.
He noted that the protest is happening simultaneously across the country, pointing out that a copy of the protest letter will be submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for action, just as he called on the Inspector-General of Police and the Director -General of the DSS to caution their men and officers against journalists harassment.
Journalists across various media organisations participated in the peaceful protest.