by Angela Nwaeze and Chidinma Imoeze
Over the years, journalists have been brutally harassed, intimidated and killed in the discharge of their duties.
This harassment comes from government officials, security officers or angry mob just as was the case of the Channels Television Reporter who was recently shot to death by protesting Islamic group.
Recently, journalists in Ebonyi State including a pregnant female journalist were brutally assaulted by thugs loyal to a member of Ebonyi state house of assembly representing Afikpo South West constituency, Nkemka Onuma.
The journalists identified as Samson Nwafor, Ogochukwu Anioke and Egbo Grace, were manhandled by hoodlums sent by an honourable lawmaker to attack them at the assembly premises after the screening of a commissioner nominee.
Information has it that the lawmaker rudely interrupted an interview session between a commissioner nominee and the journalists, and when he was gently corrected for his actions he attacked the journalists, and ordered his thugs to beat up journalists including a heavily pregnant journalist who was also on duty.
This singular act exhibited by an honourable member of the State house of assembly shows that we still lives in a primitivity and ignorance of the importance of the forth estate of the realm.
He thinks he still lives in society where the press are still being muzzled and intimidated on their rights.
Recall, that similar incident happened in 2017 where a journalist and the publisher of Conscience Newspaper Charles Otu, was brutally attacked by unknown gunmen in the State.
Although the State assembly under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Francis Nwifuru, has condemned the attack through his chief press secretary, Leo Ekene Oketa, but this newspaper believes that more needs to be done to address the safety of journalists not only in the state Assembly, but in the state as a whole.
The lawmaker who perpetrated that act ought to be reprimanded, as that singular act was not in agreement with his mandate, which as a lawmaker he ought to protect the people and not assault them.
His people have the constitutional right to recall him if he fails on his constitutional mandate. While the Nigerian Union of Journalists both at the state and national have reacted on the attack on some of their own, this newspaper feels that the union has to do more in ensuring justice for its members, by withdrawing journalists covering the activities of the house for a period of two months, and anyone caught reporting the activities of the house before the deadline, should be severely sanctioned.
Also, the lawmaker needs to apologise to the body, and her members for the attack and insults melted on them for no just cause.
It is high time the State value journalists by knowing that they play a major role in nation development, as without the press the citizens’ voice and that of the politicians would not be heard, hence we give voice to the voiceless and as such should not be treated as enemies.
Politicians should know that Journalists are not only important when they are vying for any political position but should be respected after they have won the elections because they can make or mar a nation.
Politicians should stop seeing journalists as enemies rather as friends who can help them actualize their mandate.