NUJ lambasts Crescent University over attack on journalist, demands apology

October 22, 2019
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The Ogun State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, OGBC Chapel, has taken a swipe at the authorities of Crescent University over a statement released by the Public Relations office of university, Abeokuta, on the physical assault on a reporter of the Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation (OGBC), Mrs. Jumoke Onafowora, during its 11th convocation ceremony held on Saturday.

Saga Gist earlier reported that Onafowora, who is also a member of NUJ, OGBC Chapel and Ogun State Council, was on Saturday beaten blue and black by angry parents who were denied access into the convocation hall.

Onafowora, who is a member of Ogun Deputy Governor, Mrs Naimot Salako-Oyedele’s Press Crew, was attacked as the unhappy parents tore her clothes; protesting their inability to enter a hall where their children were assembled for convocation.

But Crescent University said that none of the bonafide parent of its students was denied access to the venue of the convocation; saying, those who disguised as parents and were allegedly denied access to the venue were either gatecrashers or those who were looking for help from dignitaries.

Public Relations Officer of the institution, Mr. Idris Katib, in a statement on Sunday, alleged that Onafowora arrived the Bola Ajibola Auditorium venue of the convocation about two hours behind deadline set for graduands and guests to have seated.

However, the NUJ said it was “a big lie for the authorities of Crescent University to claim that Mrs. Onafowora came late to the assignment, which shows that the PR office does not know the person in question.”

A statement jointly signed by Abiodun Ogundipe, the Chapel Chairman and the Secretary, Chris Ogbu on Tuesday, said “Onafowora is not only a staff of OGBC, but a member of the Press Crew of the Ogun State Deputy Governor, who was at the convocation ceremony to represent the state Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun,” wondering where the school authorities got the information that Onafowora came late to the assignment when she followed her principal to the event.

The pressmen lamented that it was shameful of Crescent University’s PR office to allegedly twist the fact of the story and claim that Onafowora, who they said had been seated in the hall and went out to get her recorder was struggling with parents to gain access to the convocation hall, “while news report have it that the parents who had been poorly treated by the University vented their anger on her for not being able to gain entrance into a hall.”

While expressing sadness that “the university’s PR office has decided to tow the path of shameful lies and disrespect” of its member, the Chapel demanded that “Crescent University retract the false statement and tender an unreserved apology to Onafowora and the union with immediate effect.”

It also asked the institution to pick up the medical bill of the victim and replace her lost valuables in the course of the attack on her.

Failure to do these, the NUJ, OGBC Chapel threatened that it “will condemn Crescent University permanently into the bad books” of it union, saying “an injury to one is an injury to all.”

The statement reads:
“We received with great disappointment, the press release by the Public Relations office of the Crescent University, Abeokuta, over the physical assault on the reporter of the Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation (OGBC), Mrs. Jumoke Onafowora, who is also a member of our union, Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, OGBC Chapel and Ogun State Council.

“It is no doubt a big lie for the authorities of Crescent University to claim that Mrs. Onafowora came late to the assignment which shows that the PR office does not know the person in question.

“For the records, Mrs Onafowora is not only a staff of OGBC, but a member of the Press Crew of the Ogun State Deputy Governor, Engineer Noimot Salako-Oyedele, who was at the convocation ceremony to represent the state Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun. We now wonder where the school authorities got the information that Mrs Onafowora came late to the assignment when she followed her principal to the event.

“It is shameful of Crescent University PR office to twist the fact of the story and claim that Mrs. Onafowora, who had been seated in the hall and went out to get her recorder was struggling with parents to gain access to the convocation hall, while news report have it that the parents who had been poorly treated by the University vented their anger on her for not being able to gain entrance into a hall.

“It is again a surprise that the University could condone such a barbaric assault on a journalist in the line of duty, based on concocted lies that she came late to the assignment. Even if it was true, which we strongly believe it’s not, does she deserve to be physically assaulted to the point where she suffered injuries, lost valuables and her life was threatened right in the presence of the school’s security officers?

“We are again shocked by the shoddy rebuttal which in one part said that our member struggled with parents to gain entrance into the hall and in another part claimed in their non-existing “preliminary investigation” that those who attacked our member were “not bona-fide parents but gate-crashers, touts and miscreants who disguised as parents to beg for money and curry favour with dignitaries”. Which part of this badly crafted PR should we believe?

“This call to question the security and other arrangement put in place by the school for the event and clearly shows that the authorities of the school have failed in adequate preparation for invited guests.

“How will the school with its security apparatus allow “gate-crashers, touts and miscreants” entrance into the school and assault invited guests who have duties to perform at the event? This is nothing but a self-indictment.

“The school is virtually telling us that there was no security; and guests, including VIPs such as the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo; the Olowu of Owu, Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu; the Towulade of Akinale, Oba Olufemi Ogunleye, who is an alumnus of the school; the Emir of Kazaure, Alhaji Nojib Hussaini Adamu – Pro chancellor of the school and other foreign nationals were at risk during the event. It further goes to show that even students that reside on the school campus are not safe.

“It is interesting to note that Oba Olufemi Ogunleye who witnessed the show of shame caused by the laxity on the part of the institution reportedly blamed an “irate lady” for the ugly incident, wondering “if a parent can be so undisciplined and rascal, what should be expected from her graduating ward”. Does it mean that Crescent University is calling the revered royal father a liar?”

“It is also insulting for the University to be pontificating that journalists and other Nigerians should embrace the culture of punctuality, leaving the issue at hand to focus on a fabrication of lies about punctuality, rather than answer to its lack of good coordination, security and respect for dignity and human values.

“It is glaring that the University is insensitive to the plight of Mrs Onafowora by describing her explanation to colleagues who came to her rescue as “unethical, sensational and judgmental rush to the press……..without contacting any official of the institution”. It is important to note that she never granted any press interview* but responded to queries of those who took pity on her and came to her help. The questions are: where are the officials of the school when our member was assaulted in the presence of their security personnel? How can someone who has suffered so much physical abuse and in serious pains be looking for officials that have failed to provide a secured environment for the event?

“This issue could have been simply resolved by an apology to Mrs. Onafowora and a commitment to better organization in future events to forestall a recurrence, but sadly the university’s PR office has decided to tow the path of shameful lies and disrespect of our member who is also the Vice Chairman of NUJ in OGBC.

“We, therefore, demand that Crescent University retract the false statement and tender an unreserved apology to Mrs. Onafowora and the union with immediate effect.

“Also, the institution should pick up the medical bill of our Vice Chairman and replace her lost valuables in the course of the attack on her.

“Failure to do these will condemn Crescent University permanently into the bad books of our great union as ‘an injury to one is an injury to all.”

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