By Ezra Musa
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday decried rising spate of attacks on journalists while on duty, and urged security agencies to adopt stringent measures to check the trend.
Mr Hassan Hyet, its Chairman in Kaduna State, while on a solidarity and sympathy visit to the Kaduna chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), said that the consistent attack on media men was an assault to the entire society.
“Journalists have a statutory duty to educate and inform. Any attack on them will deny Nigerians the right to be educated and informed. That should be everyone’s concern,” Hyet said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that thugs invaded the NUJ secretariat on Sunday, when top members of the APC, including senators, House of Representatives members and party officials were addressing a press conference.
The press conference had centred on the delegates election conducted by the party on Saturday, July 29.
The thugs beat up journalists, broke cameras and midgets, and also destroyed part of the NUJ building.
Hyet, who described the attack as “very unfortunate”, advised politicians to learn the act of tolerance.
“Politicians must be tolerant of divergent views. In a democracy, people must be allowed to air their views and voice out grievances.
“Nigeria is not a jungle; people should not use their fists, instead of their voices, in countering others’ positions on issues.
“The journalists were merely performing their duties at the NUJ. It was wrong for anyone to have even allowed strangers into the NUJ premises,” he said.
Hyet said that no society could exist without information, “whether such information is pleasant to those in authority or not”, and stressed the need to respect the freedom to express opinion.
“If you feel someone is giving the wrong information, go to the same media and state your side of the story. The law does not allow anyone to take a cutlass and start chasing other people just because of a political disagreement,” he said.
He opined that the Nigerian society would only progress and prosper if everyone was allowed to contribute his own ideas in national discourses.
NUJ chairman Yusuf Adamu, who thanked Hyet for the visit, said that the Sunday attack was the first of its kind in the history of the NUJ in Kaduna.
He wondered why innocent journalists doing their jobs should be attacked when they were ready to equally state the side of the “attacker” in the political dispute.
Adamu said that the NUJ shall continue to discharge its duty to Nigeria and Nigerians by remaining the voice of the downtrodden, declaring that the media shall continue to stand by the people in line with the core values of journalism profession.
The NUJ official advised politicians against using youths as political thugs and hoodlums, “instead of mobilising such youths into positive ventures that will make them assets to the nation”. (NAN)