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Nigeria3 May 2007

Journalist in coma after being beaten unconscious by Ondo state police

Reporters Without Borders voiced shock today at the severity of an attack on journalist Dare Folorunso of state-owned Ondo State Radiovision Corporation (OSRC), who was beaten unconscious by several policemen, including a deputy commissioner, at a May Day rally on 1 May in Akure, in the southwestern state of Ondo. He is now in a coma.

“The election campaign has created a very difficult climate for press freedom,” Reporters Without Borders said. “There have been many physical attacks on journalists and they are getting more and more violent. Folorunso is the latest victim. The Nigerian authorities must take measures to ensure that these attacks are punished.”

The attack took place at the entrance to the Akure stadium where the May Day rally was being held. A policeman objected to Folorunso’s taking photos and tried to grab his camera from him, although Folorunso explained that he was a journalist. When Folorunso defended himself, other policemen intervened and began beating him.

Witnesses said assistant commissioner of police Joshua Mumbo participated in the beating and hit Folorunso several times on the head with a baton. Other journalists were beaten when they tried to intervene on behalf of Folorunso.

The police finally stopped the beating when Folorunso, bleeding heavily, lost consciousness. But he was not taken to hospital until much later, after Michael Bodunde, another assistant commissioner of police, and Alaba Isijola, an Ondo state official, had intervened.

Doctors at the State Specialist Hospital have managed to keep Folorunso alive but he is in a coma.

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