SOME journalists in the Eket axis of Akwa Ibom State, Southern Nigeria, who were covering the state’s Local Government elections on Saturday, were brashly dehumanized by the police in the area in the course of carrying out their lawful duties.
AkanimoReports gathered that at the Eket secretariat of the state Independent Electoral Commission (AKISIEC), scores of armed policemen descended on two reporters while a similar drama took place at the Ibesikpo Asutan area of the state.
The commander-in-chief of the assault on the journalists in Eket, the home of the American oil major, ExxonMobil, was said to be the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in the area, Mr. Idowu Owohunwa. He allegedly ordered his men to ”deal” with the journalists after a brief discussion.
An eye-witness said the policemen swiftly descended on the reporters and left them with serious injuries after giving them a severe beating of their lives.
Among the victims are the District Correspondent of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) a state agency as well as the Editor of News Net a local tabloid in the state.
The Journalists lost various valuables including digital cameras and mini recorders in the seeming show of shame by the policemen.
The reporters were declined attention at the Divisional Police Headquarters when they approached policemen on duty to make a formal report of the incident.
The policemen told our roving correspondent that they had instructions from the commanding DPO not to receive such reports.
A team of reporters led by the state Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr Joe Effiong, and his deputy, Mrs. Florence Umoetuk, visited the Eket police station to see their brutalized colleagues.
Appeals by the NUJ Chairman to incident the report in the police crime diary were rebuffed as the request fell on deaf ears.
By the time of filing in this report, the injured journalists were still receiving treatments at a private clinic for the bruises and injuries sustained during the attack.
One of the policemen allegedly boasted that reporting the matter to the police high command will not make any difference because the DPO has been ”a personal assistant to an Inspector General of Police at the Force Headquarters in Abuja”.