Photo journalist brutalised by LASUTH staff as release of Dana Air corpses commence
A photojournalist from Leadership Newspapers, Benedict Uwalaka, was on Thursday brutalized by staff of Lagos State University teaching Hospital (LASUTH) mortuary for taking shots of events while the corpses were released.
Mr Uwalaka was at the premises of the hospital with his colleagues from other media house on the invitation of the hospital’s management to cover the release of identified corpses of the Dana Air Crash victims.
Mr Uwalaka had moved closer to the vehicle where a corpse was to be placed when an official of the hospital seized his camera and another one hit him on the head with a bottle.
But some official of LASUTH approached and seized his camera while some others beat him up, tearing his shirt and leaving his face swollen and bloodied.
The assault on the photo-journalist irked his colleague and they went with him to report at the nearby police station.
Returning to the hospital to collect his camera, Mr Uwalaka was hit from behind with a bottle on his head by another official of the teaching hospital, leaving him with more wound on his head and bruised face.
Worst place to be a journalist
The assault on Mr Uwalaka is coming on the heels of a report that places Nigeria as the second worst nation as regards the safety of journalists in its territory.
According to the bi-annual ‘Killing the Messenger survey’ of news media causalities produced by the Cardiff School of Journalism for the International News Safety Institute (INSI), the survey claimed that some 70 journalists and support staff were killed while on assignment in the first half of the year 2012 alone.
15 of them were confirmed dead between January and June in Syria where a bloody civil war has raged on, while in Nigeria, seven journalists were said to have been killed in bomb attacks carried out by fundamentalist sect Boko Haram.
Other countries listed after Nigeria are Brazil, Somalia, Indonesia, where five journalists died in a plane crash, and Mexico.
The toll compares with 124 for the whole of 2011 and 56 for the first seven months of last year. And 70 may be a conservative figure as INSI has recorded the deaths of an additional 30 news people where it was unclear whether the killings were related to their work, the INSI reported.
“Journalists are more than ever in the cross-hairs of the enemies of freedom,” said INSI Director Rodney Pinder.
“Despite some encouraging international political moves to halt the murder, the gun and the bomb remain the favoured method of censorship in far too many countries.
“Each and every killing chokes the free flow of information without which free societies cannot function.”