9 August 2012

Nigeria: Former Militants Storm Office of Nigeria Union of Journalists

press release

Hundreds of former militants invaded the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), in Warri, Delta State, in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, threatening to burn down the building.

The former militants, who had been granted amnesty by the Nigerian government, were angered by the fact that there was no reporter available to interview them and cover their protest over the non-payment of their monthly stipend.

The former militants, brandishing various weapons, also arrived with kegs of petrol and were accompanied by 17 women who said they were demonstrating in solidarity with their husbands, who had been trained by the government under the second phase of the Amnesty Programme aimed at disarming and re-integrating them into daily life.

The former militants attempted to lynch Michael Ikeogwu, the chairman of the Correspondents' Chapel of the NUJ. Ikeogwu was saved by the quick intervention of soldiers and police officers, who arrested a handful of the former militants.

Dele Fasan, a Galaxy Television correspondent in Warri who tried to calm the situation, was manhandled for failing to record the protest.

The former militants gave journalists 30 minutes to make arrangements to interview them and started smashing glass doors when it was obvious that most reporters had fled. Gbenga Ahmed, a reporter with the privately-owned Independent Television, based in Benin, also had his car vandalised and was forced to record the protest.

It took the efforts of the Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Army's 3rd Battalion in Effurun, a few kilometers from Warri, to curtail the rampage. Lieutenant Colonel Ifeanyi Otu sent his personnel in response to a distress call from the leadership of the NUJ.

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