The #EndSARS protests have generated a lot of controversy since its inception almost 2 weeks ago. Things took a turn for the worst on Tuesday after some armed military officials opened fire on the unarmed protesters.
The reason for attacking the protesters was simply because they refused to obey a curfew imposed on the state by Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu. The shooting which was widely believed to have been sponsored by government authorities led to the death of many youths while several others also sustained severe injuries.
Amnesty International in its report said at least 38 people were killed in different parts of Lagos on Tuesday and amongst them, 12 casualties were recorded in Lekki Toll Gate and Alausa.
Aftermath of military invasion
Following the invasion, the Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-olu said the order given to the military came from ‘powers beyond his control’. The governor said he had visited the victims injured in hospital and can confirm that there was no casualty.
The governor’s statement shocked many Nigerians who were convinced that all the he was saying was contrary to evidence. The military in their ‘maradonic’ way also said not shooting occurred. This angered many youths in Lagos and they took law into their hands, unleashing deadly attacks in the state.
First they attacked government properties, they moved to private companies and eventually to media organisations. While they set Television Continental (TVC) on fire, they also burnt the Nation Newspaper primarily because the platforms are believed to be owned by the leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu.
Asides this, there are insinuations that the platforms are not accurately reporting issues around the #EndSARS protest. The masses felt the media should be on their side at all times. For Channels Television, the platform got a backlash because it offered to cover the live broadcast of the Governor which to many was laced with inaccuracy.
The protesters wanted a platform that would be reporting live happenings on their agitations or nothing. In Osun State for instance, hoodlums attacked the state owned television, the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation, (OSBC) causing journalists to run for their dear lives.
The attackers were angry that the television stations only air the government’s programs.This happened despite a curfew imposed in the state by Governor Gboyega Oyetola on Tuesday.
It should, however, be noted that to report conflicts, journalists and media organizations have the right to balance their reporting regardless of who it affects. A major tenet of good journalism is being disciplined enough to verify and investigate claims and counter-claims.
Press Attacks unjustifiable
Following the attacks, the International Press Centre (IPC), expressed worries over the attack on media organisations. The centre said the attack on TVC, The Nation Newspaper and their respective staff may cause the nation disrepute in the international community.
IPC also spoke about the attack on Toyin Yusuf, a journalist with Osun State Broadcasting Corporation and an Arise TV crew from carrying out their legitimate duty at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos.
Lanre Arogundade, the Executive Director of IPC, said the media job is to bring truthful accounts to the citizens and under no circumstances should they be subjected to hardship in the course of doing that.
He therefore called on security operatives to provide a safe environment for journalists and other media professionals to carry out their duties unhindered.