To say some politicians in Kaduna State have high regard for political thugs than Journalists is a gross understatement, as some of these politicians directly and indirectly sponsor miscreants to attack Journalists while covering political assignment, especially towards the 2023 general elections.
Heavy attacks on Journalists by thugs at different coverage of political events in recent times gave credence to these ugly incidents in the State capital.
One of the Journalists had his car stolen, others molested, beaten by thugs at coverage of political events in recent time.
Unfortunately, security men appeared to have turned their backs at embattled Reporters.
Journalists in Kaduna have been witnessing display of dangerous weapons such as sharp knives, cutlasses and daggers as well as outright display of amulets and charms by the thugs as presidential and governorship Aspirants visited their respective party offices for consultation and wooing of delegates ahead of primaries elections.
It was always observed that whenever political rally and meetings were being held, thugs often had free entrance to such venues than Journalists assigned to cover such events.
Another segment of persons that would also enjoy the opportunity of free access to venues of political events at the detriment of Journalists are the praise singers.
On most occasions Reporters are subjected to undue screening by security operatives at entrances to such events, raining unnecessary questions and causing delays for men of the fourth estate of the realms on duty.
Perhaps, out of ignorance, most of organisers of political events detested the large number of Reporters at an event, thinking rather wrongly that all Journalists work for one news organisation.
Now, two ugly incidents that happened recently came to a focus here, something akin to acting a film, but they were a stark reality that have robbed Journalists of the due respect and honour they ought to enjoy from the society.
Precisely, on March 22, a Kaduna Journalist’s Car was stolen at the State All Progressive Congress (APC) Secretariat when he went to cover declaration of interest for governorship by APC Aspirant.
The stolen Car, a Golf 3 car; American model with plate number LSD-516-HB, belonged to the Political Editor of the New Nigerian Newspaper (NNN), Mr. Amos Mathew.
The black colour Golf was suspected to have been stolen by some political thugs.
The stolen vehicle was parked in front of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party Secretariat along Akilu Road, where journalists were invited to cover declaration for governorship race by APC aspirant.
However, journalists in the state have threatened to boycott future political activities in the state, should relevant authorities fail to recover the vehicle.
According to Mr. Mathew, the vehicle was parked in front of the party Secretariat at about 10:00 A.M on the fateful day and was discovered to have been stolen at the end of political event by unidentified political thugs.
He explained that the police and other relevant authorities have been briefed on the ugly development.
Mathew said valuable items such as ATM card, office Identity Card, Voters’ Card, National Identity Card amongst others were in the stolen vehicle.
The most recent incident was on Monday, May 9 when a presidential hopeful, Anyim Pius Anyim came calling at the State Sectariat of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Regrettably, soon after the event thugs descended on members of the welfare committee of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). The Secretary of the Committee, Benjamin Auta was heavily beaten. At the time of this report, Auta was an out patient at Saint Gerard’s Catholic Hospital, Kakuri, Kaduna where he was treated of internal pains and hand dislocation.
A photojournalist with Leadership newspaper, Gbenga Abiola was mandled by the same thugs even as wrestled him out of danger on that day.
Other Journalists who saw the thugs displaying dangerous weapons scampered to safety.
More embarrassing was that a day before Anyim’s arrival, while Reporters were waiting for the arrival of the former Senate President, Bukola Abubakar Saraki, some PDP officials had disrespected Journalists, asking them to walk out of the hall at the State PDP secretariat.
Their ‘offence’ was that they were too many in the hall with too many camera men blocking the views of delegates at presidential aspirants.
Journalists refused to walk out of the hall, and it took the intervention of the State Secretary of the PDP, Alhaji Ibrahim Wusono who allocated a space in the hall to Journalists.
Similar intervention was made by a media Adviser, Ahmed Maiyaki to one of the APC governorship Aspirant when a Journalist car was stolen. Maiyaki ensured that some token amount of money was donated to the affected Journalist just to cushion the socio-economic effect of the incident.
However, long before now Journalists in the State had thought that PDP was more organised in terms of extending invitation to them to cover the party’s event, until the State PRO, Abraham Catoh started to contradict himself by saying that he didn’t want to see crowd of Journalists at PDP event after he had formally invited them through the State Secretariat of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
He was quoted to have said that whether Journalists were invited or not they have no choice than to report those presidential Aspirants visiting the PDP secretariat because they are ‘big fish’.
But an official of the NUJ was quick to challenge him that Journalists can only file report after attending and covering an event, and not based on hearsay or speculation.
Catoh was also believed to have boasted that he has his own list of Journalists that cover PDP assignment for him as the PRO of the party.
More worrisome in recent time is the fact some politicians have engaged what is known as bootlickers to do the dirty jobs of rubbishing Journalists over story considered not in favour of thier pay master.
Few weeks ago, Cameraman of Channels Television, Tega Johnson was detained for two hours by Vigilantes group in Barnawa area of Kaduna city on the order of such bootlicker for allegedly failing to air an event he covered for a House of Representatives Aspirant.
“The man just called me to cover another event for him, and I didn’t know that he decided to deceive me by describing me and my Car to the Vigilantes. So after I did the coverage, he left immediately, and as I was about to enter my Car, some members of the Vigilantes said I am under arrest. They took me to their office in Barnawa and I stayed there for two hours until my Oga came to free me.
“What pained me most was because that day was my birthday. The man spoilt day for me for no offence committed. The said coverage was still undergoing normal news processing before airing it, but the man lacked patience”. Johnson said.
Meanwhile, pressure is being mounted on the State Chairman of NUJ, Hajiya Asma’u Yawo Halilu to call for the boycott of all political assignments and activities in the State until politicians have come to term to accord Journalists their due respect and honour.
Report said the NUJ Chairman was highly worried and disturbed by the recent ugly developments against her members.
However, when contacted by our Reporter, she said she would investigate the incidents and apply sanction where necessary, just as she cautioned Journalists to always exhibit professional conduct as they carry out their official daily activities.
NUJ Chairman advised that as Journalists, “We should not cheapen ourselves before politicians, we should accord ourselves due respect otherwise they will continue to rubbish us and go scott free. We should not forget that we are professionals, we are not beggars, we are not thugs, we are neither praise singers. We are Journalists doing our works, we are to ensure all shades of opinions are represented in our reportages because we accountable to the entire society to make it a better place for the citizenry.