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CDWR condemns government invasion of daily independent newspapers

Press statement
26 October 2005

The Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR) condemns in strong terms the brutal, insensitive and utterly inhuman acts of destruction, brutality, and intimidation meted out on workers of the Daily Independent Newspapers while its premises was invaded by some armed mobile policemen and officials of the Lagos State Physical Planning and Development Authority on Monday, October 24, 2005. The invading team led by a superintendent of police and an assistant superintendent of police were said to be executing a demolition order issued by the Physical Planning and Development Authority in Ikeja for “constructing an industrial premises without statutory development permission”.

The invasion that started at about 2.45pm and lasted for about one hour resulted in a journalist being brutalized along with security guards of the premises. While on rampage the invaders demolished the warehouse of the medium and the glass door leading to the main editorial block. They also harassed and manhandled other workers as well as the legal adviser who was brutalized for trying to find out why the premises was being invaded and properties being destroyed without prior information to the management about their mission. Also brutalized was Mr. Essien who was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment stemming from the injuries he sustained.

We totally condemn the systematic attack on the mass media in recent times as this incident is happening a day after AIT was unjustly shut down by agents of the Federal Government. The Lagos State Government Secretariat is a stone throw from the premises in which Daily Independent Newspapers has been operating for years, it takes one aback why the state government acted as if the structure was built yesterday. We demand that the Lagos State Government and its agents should discharge their duties in accordance with the constitution, as the act of forceful eviction criminally undermines the constitution, civil society, as well as democratic rule in general.

We demand an end to human rights violation by those in authority and their agents. We also call for a constitutional amendment in which all draconian, arbitrary, anti-people laws and edicts will be removed forthwith as they make nonsense of, and ridicules the gains of the protracted, selfless, heroic struggles of Nigerians in the quest for a democratically run civil society that culminated in the rule of the present civilian government.

We equally demand an open apology to the management and staff of Daily Independent Newspapers and payment of adequate compensation for the destruction and brutality meted out to the property and staff of medium by the government. We also demand that the mobile policemen, and staff of the Lagos State Physical Planning and Development Authority be brought to book for their callous, inhuman, uncivilized method of achieving their aims.

Rufus Olusesan

Victor Osakwe