The Lagos State Council of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) says it will push for an establishment of distress fund for journalists in media organisations whose vehicles were vandalised during the unrest that trailed the #EndSARS protests.
The protests, aimed at getting rid of the now-dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), began peacefully in Lagos State early October. The notorious unit was accused of extortion, brutality, extra-judicial killings, and other human rights violations.
The protest took an unfortunate turn on Tuesday as men in army camouflage shot at unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos.
The aftermath of the incident witnessed wanton destruction of several public assets and private properties in the state by hoodlums. The facilities of media organisations such as Television Continental (TVC), Lagos Television (LTV), Radio Lagos/Eko FM, and The Nation Newspapers, were set ablaze.
In a statement issued by Lagos NUJ Chairman, Dr. Qasim Akinreti, on Sunday, he bemoaned the incidents, describing them as “an affront on the Nigerian media.”
He said the council would also push for compensation for photojournalists who had their cameras damaged by hoodlums.
Akinreti assured journalists in the affected media organisations that the union stands with them.
While pleading with members of the union to make sure that they observe all safety measures in covering crisis events, he appealed to the EndSARS protesters to “sheath their sword.”
“Dear colleagues. Happy Sunday. We are indeed in a very trying times in the state, in the media industry and the country at large,” the NUJ chairman in Lagos said.
“The violent events of EndSARS protesters have left the media bruised and further plunged it into distress.
“I had the opportunity of accessing (sic) the destruction of TVC facilities from a distance at Ikosi. I walked round LTV and Radio Lagos/Eko FM as well as traffic Radio and interacted with some colleagues and the leadership of the organisations during and after the horrific attacks.
“I visited one of the photojournalists assulted by the hodlums and interacted with the remaining two including an exco of the Council.
“As part of the welfare scheme of the Union, I have taken steps to augment the welfare efforts of the management of the state broadcasters as well as the security agents in the complex. Further medical check-up will be arranged for the three photo Journalists.
“The destruction of media facilities is an affront on the Nigerian media which have always stood in defence of Free speech and democracy.
“Our joy from available reports from the leadership of various Chapels, media organisations and other senior officials indicates that Journalists in the affected media organisations caught up in the crisis are safe.
“However, the destruction of equipment and properties in the media houses are of great concern.
“Accordingly, I briefed the Commissioner of Information and Strategy and the Permanent Secretary of the situation of things. Further discussions will continue next week.
“It will be recalled that the media organisations before now provides (sic) means of livelihood to our teeming members, we must support all efforts to assist our members and their organizations.
“The NUJ Lagos State Council will push for an establishment of distress fund for Journalists in the affected organizations whose vehicles were vandalised. Compensation for the damaged cameras for the Photojournalists will also be pursued.
“We are assuring our members in the affected media organizations that the union stand with them.
“I plead with our members to make sure that they observe all safety precautionary measures in covering crisis events.
“I equally appeal to the ENDSARS protesters to sheath their sword so that government can start implementing the remaining demands.
“Long live NUJ, Long live Lagos State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”