Nigerian authorities must investigate and hold accountable the police officers responsible for allegedly assaulting and threatening journalist Kofi Bartels, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Friday.
Allegations are that on Wednesday a group of at least five police officers punched and kicked Bartels, a reporter with the privately owned Nigeria Info radio station. They beat him on the knees with pieces of wood, and arrested him for filming them, the journalist said in a Twitter post.
He was taken to a police station, where Bartels alleged that a police officer told him he had “been giving them problems for a long time” with his reports on the police in Rivers state. He said the officer said he would be place in a prison cell with an inmate who would rape him.
However, Bartels said the officers did not charge him with any crime, and instead released him about four hours after the incident began.
After he was released, Bartels said he went to a hospital where doctors examined his bruised knees and recommended he receive x-rays of his neck and spine, which he is scheduled to undergo tomorrow.
“The police officers involved in this horrific alleged assault against Kofi Bartels must be swiftly brought to justice,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in Johannesburg.
The initial assault of a reporter documenting police behavior, compounded by the brazen retaliation for past reporting, is a chilling example of a gravely consistent pattern of Nigerian security services’ violence against journalists.”
Bartels said the incident began when he was filming the officers, whom he identified as members of Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad, beating a boy outside Bartel’s home in Port Harcourt.
The officers saw him filming, beat him, and brought him to the robbery squad’s headquarters
Nnamdi Omoni, spokesperson for the Rivers state police, reportedly said five men from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad were under investigation for the alleged attack against Bartels, but that they denied wrongdoing.