Men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCD) on Friday, 24th January, 2014, brutally assaulted Mr. Waheed Adebayo, Oyo State Correspondent of Leadership Newspapers, at the installation of a new Catholic Archbishop of Ibadan Diocese.
An officer of the NSCD who was identified as Mr. Anjorin particularly singled out Adebayo. He beat him up and tore his cloth. His colleagues also joined him in dragging the reporter. The officials continued to rough-handle Adebayo despite efforts by other journalists to identify him.
We of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) condemn this outrageous display of impunity and overzealousness. By this barbaric action, NSCD men have exposed themselves as coming from the same stuff that most uniformed men are made in Nigeria.
With the exception of a few God-fearing and disciplined officers, most soldiers, police and para-military men become intoxicated with power the moment they don the uniform. Their actions are openly hostile and surprisingly anti-people, the same people they are paid to protect and the same people who pay the tax which is used to pay their salaries. This is one of the reasons why citizens are afraid to come forward to give useful information that may help in identifying criminals.
As the Fourth Estate of the Realm, journalists are held in high esteem in civilized countries and both governments and organizers of events should see them as partners in progress because activities of governments and public events will remain unknown without the support of journalists. Napoleon was reported as saying that he would rather face a thousand swords than the wrath of a single journalist. The NSCD officials who brutalized Adebayo have only manifested their ignorance and improper training. Knowledgeable people treat journalists with respect.
Neither democracy nor the rule of law can survive without a free press. The principles of equal rights, freedom and justice will go to the dogs without a virile press. Journalists are the voice of the voiceless and the strength of the jamaheer (masses) and the downtrodden. By implication therefore, any attack on journalists is an attack on the jamaheer. Who will speak for the poor and oppressed if journalists are intimidated?
The barbaric attack on Adebayo has once again revealed the dangers to which journalists are exposed on a daily basis. MURIC appeals to the courageous members of this noble profession to remain focused in spite of this brutal attack. we call for strong disciplinary action against the NSCD officials for behaving like thugs in uniform and for dragging the name of the organization in the mud.
We charge the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to rise to the occasion. NUJ must regard this as ‘attack on one, attack on all’. Why should a journalist be treated like a thief caught in the act? Many journalists have suffered this kind of humiliation in the past and the uniformed culprits have often gone scot free due to the inability to identify them. But this is a different case. We have names and pictures of suspects. NUJ must insist on their arrest and prosecution. Those behind the public humiliation of Adebayo must be taught a lesson as a deterrent for other overzealous uniformed men.
Finally, we remind security agencies and all men in uniform that civility is sine qua non in the fight against crime. Criminals cannot be fought single-handedly by security agents alone. They need the cooperation of the general public. To get this vital cooperation, they need to be friendly and civil in the discharge of their duties. This is how to win the confidence of the citizenry. To assure the general public that it is a well-trained security agency, NSCD must punish those behind the brutal assault on Mr. Adebayo and issue a public apology. There must be no attempt to sweep this matter under the carpet.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)