Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Some journalists in Ebonyi State were on Tuesday attacked by a serving member of the state House of Assembly and a Commissioner nominee (names withheld) in the premises of the Assembly complex located along Nkaliki Road, Abakaliki, the state capital.
The attackers were joined to unleash mayhem on the journalists by their aides who inflicted their victims with injuries.
Among the attacked newsmen were the state correspondent of The Nation newspaper, Mr Ogochukwu Anioke; and Mr Samson Nwafor of the Nigerian Pilot newspaper and others. The duo sustained varying degrees of injuries.
Nwafor, who doubles as the Secretary of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ebonyi State council, also lost some of his working tools during their attack.
One of the victims, Anioke, was later held hostage by their attackers inside the House of Assembly premises. The thugs to the chief attackers, the lawmaker, and the commissioner nominee, ordered the gatemen to lock the gate of the Assembly Complex when Mr Anioke made to drive out.
Trouble started when the lawmaker wanted to stop the newsmen from getting clarifications from the commissioner nominee over the discrepancies in the dates as contained in his certificates which were discovered by the Speaker of the Assembly, Mr Francis Nwifuru, during the screening exercise.
The speaker, Nwifuru, noticed that the year of the commissioner nominee’s graduation from primary school did not correspond with the year he started secondary school as contained in his documents.
He (Nwifuru) then asked him to explain how he started secondary school a
year before he graduated from primary school as contained in his
result but he could not give any reasonable answer to the query from
But apparently trying to stop the discovery from being reported, the lawmaker who, perhaps, had interest in seeing the nominee scale through the hurdles of the screening, pounced on the journalists and disrupted their work.
Narrating his ordeal to his colleagues after the incident, Anioke narrated that a little altercation that ensured between the two parties after the lawmaker disrupted their interview session degenerated when his thugs joined him to attack the journalists.
Anioke narrated: “As the lawmaker was shouting at thet top of his voice, his boys joined him and attacked one of the journalists, Samson Nwafor, of the Nigerian Pilot newspaper and hit him hard on the chest and he fell down.
“At this point I intervened and joined in separating the fight. The noise also attracted some police officers working in the Assembly who came and helped to restore calm.
“Later the commissioner nominee pleaded with the journalists to forgive the lawmaker and the thugs who attacked them”, Anioke narrated.
He further narrated that at that point, one of the thugs who were with him came and started shouting again saying that “the journalists can go and write whatever they want.”
“He also threatened to beat us up and warned that we should leave the place. At that point I became unconformable and made to enter my car but his boys came and held my car door and dragged me out. One of them came from the back and hit me on the back of my head while others joined in the beating.
“I managed to extricate myself from them and entered my car. This time, the Commissioner nominee himself came and held my car door. I started the car nonetheless and drove off forcing him and others with him to leave the door.
“But as I got to the gate, they told the gateman to lock the gate and not to allow me to leave. They swamped around my car and were trying to forcefully open it but they couldn’t.
“Some were hitting the glasses with their hands trying to break it. At that point, the Chairman of Nigerian Union of Journalists, Mr Tony Nwizi, came and told the security men to open the gate which they did and I managed to escape to safety”, Anioke narrated.