From Mathew Jwantu,
Days of trouble rays its ugly head on Channels television reporter and camera man barely a week after the National President of Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ) Chris Isiguzo adjudged Niger state as one of the journalists-friendly state, men of the Niger state police command on Tuesday assaulted the state correspondent of Channels Television, Mr Emperor Simon.
Also the organization’s cameraman attached to the Niger state office, Abdullahi Egba was assaulted and whisked away by the police.
According to Mr Simon, the Channel’s team were in Tafa local government for a follow up story on the disappearance of the Returning Officer for the local government in the Saturday’s council election when the incident happened.
He said the team ran into a protest by youths who were expressing their misgivings over the cancellation of the outcome of the poll over the alleged disappearance of the Returning Officer and was caught in the commotion.
“No sooner had the protesters started blocking the Kaduna Abuja highway that the Policemen at the Tafa local government Secretariat started shooting sporadically into the air to disperse the crowd.
Accordingly, he said “the police used “canisters, live ammunition” to disperse protesters, adding that “they also beat me up with stick and gun butts. They whisked my Cameraman and he is being held at the Divisional headquarters in Sabon Wuse.
The State Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) condemned the “harassment” and “intimidation” of its members who are on lawful duties.
In a statement jointly signed by the NUJ chairman, Alhaji Abdu Idris and the Secretary, Abu Nmodu, the Union said the assault coming a few days after its national officers who were on duty tour of the state adjudged Niger as one of the journalists-friendly state, was “distasteful and unacceptable”.
The Union called on police authority to rein in its officers and men, warning that it would no longer tolerate assault on its members henceforth.
Also the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state has also condemned the police for assaulting its members who are on peaceful protest and the journalists, describing their action as inhuman and undemocratic.
Speaking with our Correspondent on phone, the state secretary of the party, Barrister Suleiman Zhigun said the party sensed foul play when the announcement of poll result which from polling units collation indicated it won, was delayed only for SIEC to come out later that the Returning Officer has disappeared and the election cancelled.
Meanwhile, Channels Television cameraman Abdullahi Umar Egba has regained his freedom after about 4 hours in Police custody at the Tafa Divisional Police Station.
His release followed the directives given by the Police Commissioner Adamu Usman to the Divisional Officer.
According to Egba, “I was forced by the Investigation Police Officer (IPO) in charge of the case to write a statement that I was the one leading the protest.
“The Policemen ceased our camera and threatened to destroy it, but for the intervention of the CP they released the camera to our crew”.