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Police ‘brutalise journalist for taking photos of cattle’

Gabriel Idibia, a journalist with the Daily Times, was reportedly brutalised for “taking pictures of cattle shepherded by police”.

Idibia was said to have taken the pictures along Kachia expressway in Kaduna state, and was subsequently arrested on June 11.

In a statement on Saturday, the Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) condemned the arrest, adding that Idibia was carrying out his constitutional duty.

“Mr. Gabriel Idibia in a chat with the Centre for Journalism, Innovation and Development (CJID) confirmed that he was arrested and taken to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) police station, Gabasawa, while taking pictures of a large herd of cattle being shepherded by the police on Kachia expressway, a usually busy road in the state,” the statement reads.

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“He was thereafter taken into custody and brutally beaten up. Mr Idibia insists that the physical torture severely affected his eyes, forcing him to access eye treatment.

“His allegations have been corroborated by media reports and an eyewitness that was arrested along with him.

“Before his arbitrary arrest, Mr Idibia had presented his I.D card to the police officers to identify himself as a journalist trying to cover the blockage of the Kachia expressway by the herd of cattle led by the same policemen.

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“He was however denied an audience by the belligerent officers who asked him to leave the scene of the incident for no reason.

“The police officers thereafter seized his mobile phone and identity card when Mr. Idibia tried to take a picture of the road blockage and took him to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) police station, Gabasawa where he was detained from morning till late in the evening.”

The coalition said Idibia narrated how the policemen forced him to write a statement without access to his lawyers or colleagues.

“On getting to the police station, one of the officers who brought me to the station punched me in the face, and hit one of my eyes, leaving me almost blinded,” the statement quoted Idibia as saying.

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Mansir Hassan, spokesperson of the Kaduna police command, said he saw no sign of assault on the journalist.

“He was eventually granted bail on self recognition,” Hassan was quoted as saying.

The coalition asked Kayode Egbetokun, inspector-general of police (IGP), to ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted into the incident.

CWPPF also demanded punishment for any officer found culpable.

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