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Channels TV reporter dies from injuries after shooting at Nigeria protest – CPJ

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Nigerian authorities should immediately investigate the death of Precious Owolabi, a reporter for the privately owned Channels TV, who was shot during a protest in Abuja on July 22, and ensure those responsible are held to account.

Owolabi, 23, was shot while covering a confrontation between Shiite Muslim protesters and Nigerian police, and died the same day after being taken to a hospital, according to a Channels TV broadcast uploaded to its YouTube page. He had been covering a protest over the detention of Ibrahim Yaqoub El Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, according to the same Channels TV report.

Channels TV said that Owolabi was working at the station as part of Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corps, a one-year work assignment carried out by all graduates before the age of 30.

“A swift and credible investigation into the shooting that killed Precious Owolabi is critical for journalists in Nigeria to believe the government is committed to their safety,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. “Journalists should never be targeted during the course of their work, and when members of the press are harmed, those responsible must be held accountable.”

CPJ was unable to determine which side fired the shot that injured Owolabi.

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Tavershima Adongo, a medical and health consultant with the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, told CPJ that he watched the confrontation from the window of a ministry of health building. “[Owolabi] I think he still wanted to record the event, so he moved closer to the crowds and they shot him,” Adongo said, adding that he “couldn’t tell exactly which side” the bullet came from because his view of the journalist at that moment was obstructed by a parked car.

Adongo said the shot that hit Owolabi came after police fired tear gas and some protesters had advanced toward the police. “[Owolabi] was in between [the protesters and police]. He didn’t leave his position. Maybe he thought perhaps he was not going to be harmed…the police took him away [after he was hit],” Adongo said.

A journalist who was at the scene, but requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, told CPJ he saw police fire their guns and that he did not see protesters with firearms.

Police spokesperson Frank Mba told CPJ via phone that as well as Owolabi, deputy police commissioner Usman Umar was shot and died from his injuries. Mba said, “The first hypothesis is that these guys were all shot by the protesters and the deputy commissioner of police was shot point blank, at close range, by the protesters.”

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When asked if the police had fired shots during the confrontation, Mba said, “When the rioters started shooting at the policemen, the policemen they needed to fire shots into the air to let [the protesters] know that [the police] equally have weapons. They fired warning shots. When we handle protesters in this country we are guided by the principle of proportionality of force and we will always adhere to our rules of engagement and international best practices.”

Adullahi Muhammed, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria’s secretary to the academic forum, told CPJ that he was at the front of the protest and did not see any protesters with firearms. He added that some threw rocks at police after police began shooting.

John Momoh, the chairman of Channels TV’s parent company, Channels Media Group, has asked police to open an investigation into Owolabi’s killing, according to a report on the Channels TV website.

Suleiman Aliyu, another member of Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corps and a reporter with the daily Leadership A Yau, the Hausa language service of the Leadership newspaper, was also shot and injured at the protest, but he was not reporting at the time, according to the Leadership.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari tweeted condolences to the families of Owolabi and Umar.

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Lagos govt. approves full reopening of churches, mosques

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The Lagos state government on Saturday approved the full reopening of worship centres in the state.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who announced this during a briefing in the state said churches are now allowed to observe their mid-week services, while the mosques are also allowed to carry out their five times a day prayer routine, with strict compliance to COVID-19 safety protocols.

“We must not forget that the coronavirus pandemic is still very much with us, and we must, therefore, strive to prioritize the safety of all our children, teachers, parents, and the entire society,” the governor said.

Before now, the state had allowed for a gradual re-opening of places of worship as lockdowns eased.

With the full re-opening now, the governor has urged Lagosians to continue to act responsibly and maintain the required levels of hygiene.

Some other parts of the world have witnessed a resurgence of COVID-19 infections and rising possibilities of “hard lockdowns”, which according to Governor Sanwo-Olu may become inevitable for Nigerians if caution is not applied.

“Let me make it clear that if we do not continue to maintain our guard, and sustain the adherence to all required protocols and guidelines, we will find ourselves in a situation where fresh lockdowns are inevitable,” he warned.

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“The only way to avoid this is to continue to act responsibly: maintain the required levels of hygiene, through regular handwashing and use of sanitizers, wear masks in all public places, avoid non-essential public gatherings, and maintain the prescribed levels of physical distancing at all times”.

The total infections in the country have now risen to 56,956, with 48,305 patients recovered and 1,094 deaths recorded.

At the onset of the virus in Nigeria, Lagos became the epicenter, gapping other states with its case load despite frantic efforts to curb the spread.

However, in recent times, other states such as Plateau have started to witness a surge with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 stating that it might become the new epicenter in the country.

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Photos: Oyo deputy gov. donates patrol motorcycles to security operatives

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The deputy governor of Oyo state, Engr. Raufu Olaniyan on Friday made a personal donation of patrol motorcycles to security operatives in Oke Ogun area of the state to boost their role of ensuring the safety of lives and properties.

Speaking at the event, Olaniyan noted  that Security is one of the cardinal objectives of the present administration headed by Governor Seyi Makinde, adding that the government has invested massively to provide facilities and equipment for security operatives in the state to perform their roles.

Speaking further, the deputy governor remarked that ” In the light of the security challenges in the country, it is imperative that we support the government in tackling this malady. It was therefore a delight for me to donate patrol motorcycles, from my purse, to the various security outfits operating in the Oke Ogun area of our state.”

He stressed that security matters should be the responsibility of all and not the government alone.

Olaniyan, however , urged well meaning individuals and lovers of peace to support the government in creating a safe and conducive environment for growth.

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Yorubas will resist arrest of proponents of Oodua Republic – Group

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Groups under the aegis  of Yoruba Frontier Movement (YFM) on Thursday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to resist from using security agencies to harass, intimidate or arrest proponents of Oodua Republic.

YFM in a statement made available to journalists by its National Coordinator, Comrade Abdulkabir Adesina and National Secretary, Aderemi Adisa condemned the plan by security agencies to arrest proponents of Oodua Republic, saying that such action will only lead to breakdown of law and order.

The statement read, “We have received reports that there are plans by security agencies to arrest proponents of Oodua Republic headed by Chief Sunday Igboho. We are using this medium to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to order security agencies to desist from such attempts because proponents of Oodua Republic are operating within the ambit of the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The group wondered why proponents of Oodua Republic have become the target of security agencies while Fulani herdsmen and bandits have remained untouchable.

“We should even go down memory lane. President Muhammadu Buhari while desperately seeking to become Nigeria’s president made many inciting statements capable of bringing anachy into the country but ex- President Jonathan never ordered for his arrest. On many occasions northern youths and elders have made similar inciting statements and heaven didn’t come down. As a matter of fact we have been calling for restructuring of Nigeria for a very long time.The failure of government to restructure Nigeria is the reason why we are calling for Oodua Republic. Yorubas have suffered greatly since the amalgamation of the country in 1914 owing to injustice against Yoruba race in Nigeria. As a race we have every right to demand for our right to either stay with Nigeria or go our separate ways”, the statement added.

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It further lauded  Chief Sunday Igboho for taking the bull by the horn, saying that Yorubas are fully in his support.

“We are using this medium to call on traditional rulers, Obas , leaders and all Yoruba sons and daughters to support the proponents of Oodua Republic”, the statement concluded.

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