News

July 23, 2019

Reporter shot dead while covering protest in Abuja

Nigerian police officers patrol in the streets of Abuja during clashes with members of the shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) on July 22, 2019. Kola SULAIMON / AFP
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for an investigation into the use of live rounds to disperse a protest yesterday in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, resulting in the death of a young TV reporter. At least six protesters and a police officer were also reportedly killed.

The media fatality was Precious Owolabi, a trainee journalist under National Youth Service Corps with Channels TV, one of Nigeria’s most popular TV broadcasters. He was hit by a bullet while covering the protest and died later in hospital. Channels TV described him as a “young and promising” reporter.


The protest was organized by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, a Shia group that has been staging almost daily demonstrations in the capital to press demands for the release of its detained leader. The police opened fire with live rounds after clashing with the demonstrators.


President Muhammadu Buhari sent messages of condolences today to Owolabi’s family and to the management and staff of Channels TV, saluting the broadcaster’s commitment to “their professional callings”.


“Firing on a journalist while he is reporting is a very serious act and the president’s comforting words will not suffice to render justice to this young reporter gunned down in the course of his work,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “We call for a rapid investigation to identify the person who fired the shot. Impunity must not prevail. Until yesterday, no journalist had been killed in Nigeria since 2012.”


Nigeria is ranked 120th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.