Paul Orude, Bauchi
It was nightmare for some journalists covering the election along the Bauchi – Tafawa Balewa road as armed soldiers harassed them in the course of their duty.
The nasty experience first started at Dass local government when a fierce-looking officer, Lieutenant Y Ahmed, stopped a correspondent chapel bus conveying journalists on election duty.
The problem started when one of the journalists explained that they were journalists on election duty. This innocent introduction did not go down well with the officer who barked “Park! Park!’ and soon his subordinates joined the fray to query the journalists.
“Are you more special than us? If you are on election duty and so what? Park my friend. See my name. You want to see my name? Whoever you want to call, call!” The journalists were taken aback by the sudden emotional outburst of the officer without any slight provocation
What was amazing was that all the journalists were putting on the vests and p-caps given to accredited journalists by INEC.
As the officer kept ranting, his subordinates brandished their guns; one of the journalists stated that if the lieutenant would border to seek the identity of the people in the bus, he would discover that some were very senior and experienced journalists. This further infuriated him as he became more livid, saying “because you are journalists you want us to come and bow down to you? he retorted as he went about attending to civilians inside a bus they had stopped.
It took the intervention of the Chairman of the Correspondent’s Chapel, Mr Segun Awofadeji, who was leading the team, to calm the situation by explaining the mission of the newsmen before the Lieutenant could become sober.
After minutes of hesitation, the officer eventually ordered the bus to proceed, but the damage had already been done as the journalists were unable to meet Speaker Yakubu Dogara as he cast his vote at his polling unit at the Gwaranga poling unit at 9: 45.