Lamu journalist harassed by police in polling station

Lamu based Freelance journalist Abdi Hassan PHOTO NATASHA NEMA

Lamu,KENYA:A Lamu based freelance journalist  Abdul Hassan has been harassed by security officers together with IEBC officials shortly after visiting the Mokowe Primary polling station to cover the ongoing Presidential repeat poll.

Mr Hassan,26 was forced to delete all his pictures and videos he had taken at the station despite showing all his credentials including the IEBC accreditation and media council  cards.

Mr Hassan said the police at the stations forcefully took his memory card from the camera and formatted everything including his documentary he had taken previously.

“I visited the station at around 6am to cover the Presidential elections but on reaching at the station, the police and some IEBC clerks and the Presiding officer denied me access at the station. They ordered me to go back. On reaching at the gate, armed police officers came after me, snatched my camera and ordered me to return to the station. They then took the memory card and deleted everything including a documentary I had taken previously. They even destroyed the memory card,” said Mr Hassan.

He said he was shocked to be told to come with a special letter from IEBC that can allow him to cover the event.

“They said they want a letter from IEBC to identify me and enable me cover the event. I have IEBC accreditation card plus my MCK card. I don’t understand which letter they are asking for,” said agitated Hassan.

Lamu County IEBC Elections Manager Mohamed Adan confirmed to have received the complaints from the journalists.

“I have already instructed the Returning officers, Presiding officers and clerks to allow journalists do their work. I have rectified the matter. No journalists shouldn’t be denied access to any polling station provided they show their documents,” said Mr Adan.

His colleagues have condemned the act saying such violence acts committed against journalists shouldn’t be happening at this age.

“It’s a shame to see security officers and even IEBC officials harassing journalists who are doing their work without crossing their line. I encountered the same harassment on August 8 at Mokowe. This shouldn’t be happening at this age,” said Ms Mwanaharusi Rashid of Radio Rahma FM.