Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has asked the Nigerian government to constitute an independent and transparent investigation into the death of Pelumi Onifade, a 20-year-old reporter with an online media, Gboah TV in Lagos state.
The demand is contained in a statement signed by Idowu Adewale, the MRA Communications Officer made available on Friday.
“This latest incident must not go uninvestigated. The Federal Government must make every effort to establish the circumstances of his death, identify his killers and make them face the wrath of the law,” said Ayode Longe, MRA’s Programme Director.
MRA tasked the government to find the killers of Onifade and prosecute them, adding that the officer who led the squad that arrested Onnifade should be held responsible and if he is unable to provide a convincing account of what happened after they left the scene of the arrest and show that Onifade left his custody alive, should be prosecuted for the killing.
The right group also called for substantial compensation to the Onifade family for the wrongful killing of their son and a public apology to the family by both the Lagos State Government and Lagos State Police Command.
MRA stated that earlier in the week, on the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists on November 2nd, it had called for the establishment of mechanisms to combat impunity for attacks and violence against media workers in order to ensure accountability for such acts and discourage future attacks.
The civil society group stressed that killing of a journalist should never go unpunished, else the impunity will continue.
The MRA programme director reminded the government of its commitment to fulfil international obligations by launching a serious and transparent investigation into all unresolved cases of murders of journalists since the 1986 assassination of the former Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch magazine, Dele Giwa, and several other journalists whose deaths have not been resolved, including Onifade’s case.
The deceased was reportedly arrested by police officers attached to the Lagos State task force while covering the #EndSARS protests and later found dead at a mortuary in Ikorodu Lagos, where his body was deposited.
The 20-year old Onifade was covering the scene of a mob raid on a government facility in Oko Oba area of Agege Local Government Area for Gboah TV, where he was serving as an intern when operatives of the task force stormed the scene and engaged hoodlums who attempted to loot palliatives at the Ministry of Agriculture store in the Abattoir area of the state.
MRA noted that despite wearing a jacket identifying him as a journalist, Onifade was reportedly arrested and dragged away by men of the task force on October 24.
Quoting a statement issued by Gboah TV, MRA said the family and the station searched for him for days before they discovered his corpse at the mortuary in Ikorodu.
Onifade was a second-year student of the department of history at the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ogun State.