By Abuchi Onwumelu
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), has condemned the killing of a corps member attached to Channels Television, Abuja, Mr. Owolabi Precious, who was shot during the police versus Shiites clash last Monday.
This was contained in a statement signed by the national secretary of NUJ, Mr. Shuaibu Usman Leman, and made available to Fides in Awka.
In the statement, the NUJ said it was saddened by the killing of the reporter with the Channels Television in Abuja while covering a protest by members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria-IMN.
‘The NUJ regrets the sudden violent turn of events during what was supposed to be a peaceful protest by the IMN members who were demanding the release of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
‘The Reporter, Precious Owolabi, who was on national service, died of bullet wounds sustained during the coverage of the protest. It was not clear who actually fired the fatal shots,’ the statement read.
It also said a Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations at the FCT Police Command, Umar Usman, equally died from gun shots sustained during the violent protest.
‘The Nigeria Union of Journalists therefore demands for a thorough investigation to ascertain those responsible for the death of 23 year old Precious and bring such persons to account for their crime.
‘We regret the death of this young professional occasioned by the rising threats being faced by Journalists on daily basis while performing their duties.
‘Until recently, outside war zones and other conflict areas, Journalists usually didn’t have to be too much concerned about safety issues, but unfortunately today, media professionals are facing a whole new set of occupational hazards.
‘We are worried by these dangerous trends and note with disgust that Nigeria is shifting down in the overall press freedom rankings.
‘While we grieve with the family of the deceased Journalist, we caution media organizations against sending young and inexperienced Journalists to cover dangerous assignments that ideally should be given to experienced professionals who are better prepared and equipped to carry out such duties,’ the NUJ stated.
It urged the Federal Government of Nigeria to urgently address the lingering protest by IMN members calling for the release of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
It further noted that it the time was ripe to take a second look at the continued detention of not only Sheik Zakzaky and his wife, but also of Col Sambo Dasuki (Rtd), before it got too late.