From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Nigeria Union of journalists on Thursday condemned the attack on a Chief Correspondent with PUNCH Newspapers, Friday Olokor by a combined team of security operatives from the Department of State Services and Police Force, describing it as reprehensible.
The chairman, FCT council of the NUJ, Emmanuel Ogbeche, in a statement, frowned at “the low-life conduct of the officers and personnel in question.”
He said, “The NUJ FCT finds it reprehensible and frowns at the low-life conduct of the officers and personnel in question.
“The idea that any policeman and SSS operative will lay their hands on any journalist as is the unfortunate case of Friday Olokor speaks to why Nigeria ranks poorly in the Freedom Index.
“The NUJ will pursue this matter and hopes that those found wanting in this despicable act are brought to book.
“It seems there is now State policy targeting the media and journalists in this country. There is the urgency for all well-meaning Nigerians to not only condemn this travesty, but all assault on the right to freedom of expression and of the media.”
Olokor was on Thursday beaten and handcuffed by a combined team of officials of the DSS and Police at the popular M & M Events Centre, beside NICON Luxury where he went to attend the coverage of the ongoing African Women Conference organised by the dRPC under the Ford Foundation.
His colleague from Leadership Newspapers, Patience Ihejirika, was not spared.
The DSS operatives seized her telephone and deleted some vital videos to be sure that she did not record the scene.
A police officer at the scene also threatened to beat her up if she did not surrender her phone for checks.
Olokor said he ran into trouble when he introduced himself as a Journalist.
He said, “We were invited to cover a panel of discussion at the on going African Council of Women Conference with the theme: “Factors and driver of Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria”,
organised by the dRPC, under the Ford Foundation.
“I drove to the venue, M & M Events Centre, Abuja, close to NICON Luxury in Central Business District. After introducing myself, the MOPOL stopped me at the gate and said I should get entrance tag. I told him I can only get the tag from the people who invited me and can’t get it unless I drove in. Still, he refused, had to call Patience Ihejirika of Leadership Newspapers who came, gave my my tag.
“Yet, the police officer was complaining that we journalists are the problem of Nigeria. I turned and ask him why do security agencies hate journalists. He started abusing me and said if not he was on uniform, he would have taught me a big lesson. He said, ‘Look, I don’t fear journalists.’ Seeing him, you can tell he’s frustrated. He said I wasn’t going to enter. I told him know that since I’ve been cleared, I have to go in because the event has started. He stopped me from entering while insisted on going inside.
“It was during this time that the DSS operatives pounded me, tore my shirts. One of them tried severally to clear me from the ground but I kept jumping like a smart monkey.
“The DSS operatives were were joined by the police officers and they were all armed. They said I should sit down, I stood up. I was handcuffed! They seized the phone belonging to Patience Ihejirika, deleted the videos and photos of the incident, while one of the police officers threatened to beat her up.
“I called a senior officer in DSS who happened to be my friend right from school. Even when he tried to speak with them, they refused. “Tell him we’re not talking with him. Look, Olokor, I’m from Delta, when we get home, we discuss man to man,” one of them said.
“An Assistant Director called me to plead with a promise that they would been sumoned to write a report of what happened.”