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Press Under Attack: Journalists Beaten by Police and Vigilantes in Ughelli A’ Division

Two journalists, Comrade Gabriel Oghenekaro Awodeha, who also is the publisher of The Periscope and Comrade Andrew Unutame from Galaxy Television, on Thursday, faced brutality at the hands of police officers and vigilantes at Ughelli A’ division in Delta State.

Recounting the incident, Comr. Gabriel Oghenekaro described how he and a motorcycle rider encountered police conducting stop-and-search. Despite urging the rider to comply, tensions escalated when the rider couldn’t produce his documents. This led to their detention and subsequent mistreatment by the officers and vigilantes.

According to Comr. Gabriel Oghenekaro, “I boarded a motorcycle, and as we were on our way the rider, on sighting the police on stop and search duty, wanted to turn back and run, that he did not have papers, that he left them at home. I then encouraged him not to run but to meet them, that if he is stopped, I’ll plead on his behalf, and I only said so because I was suspicious, I didn’t believe somebody would ride his motorcycle without a photocopy of his particulars.

“When the police stopped us and demanded his particulars and the man said he was not with them, one of the officers ordered us to alight and then drove the motorcycle to the police station. At this point, the rider was blaming me for allowing the police to hold him because I refused to plead for him. I then told him that if truly he had his papers at home, he should go home and bring them. Once it’s established that he has his papers I’m ready to go with him to the station to assist in securing the release of his motorcycle.

“When the man brought his papers, as promised, I called a colleague and we went to the station with him. We were then directed to a policewoman identified as, Corporal Ebi who said “The particulars are not authentic, that it could be forged. She asked us to bring N50,000. She now ordered us to leave her sight to go and look for the money when we tried to speak to her.

“At this point, we decided to leave and went to our vehicle. As we were about to go, she ran towards us and asked the bike man to give her the papers, that we were running away from. I was shocked when she said so. I asked the bike man to give her the particulars which he did.

“Immediately she started raining abuses on us, when I told her that the insults were uncalled for, she said who am I to challenge her, just as she was shouting another male officer, Inspector Erasmus Ikperinwa came and grabbed me on my trousers, cut my belt and started manhandling me before others around, but police and local vigilante joined in the beating.

“They handcuffed me and forced me to lay down on the floor, threatening that they’ll throw me inside the cell where I will rot. The woman corporal, Ebi stated that she is a lawyer who has been called to the Nigerian Bar and nothing will happen, you can call the IG of Police and if it is the case that you want, I will give you to the fullest.

”When my colleague saw what was happening and tried to intervene, they attacked him with wood and gave him the same beating. I only saw him runway towards the area commander’s section in the station. After that, the woman corporal identified as Ebi from Ughelli A’Division brought a paper that they forced me to write a statement and threw me inside the cell.

“It was at this point that my colleague who ran to the area commander’s section came with a policewoman on the instructions of the A.O. summoning us to the office to hear what had happened.

“We did not commit any crime other than trying to do a humanitarian service, so I don’t see why we should be manhandled in such a way. I think it is high time the Inspector General and Delta State Police Command do something about the excesses of the police in Ughelli A Division.

“Assault on journalists by officers and vigilantes attached to the division has been a routine, and must be stopped.”

Also, while recounting the incident, Comrade Andrew Unutame explained their intention to assist the distressed rider. However, when confronted with unreasonable demands by the police, they attempted to leave but were met with violence.

Unutame added that the situation escalated as they were subjected to physical assault and verbal abuse by the officers and vigilantes. Even after attempting to explain themselves, they were met with hostility.

He said “We came to see how we can be of assistance to the bike man because according to my colleague who called me to accompany him, the bike man told him he is new in Delta and has no one. When we got there we met the lady, she asked us to go and bring N50,000”.

“We don’t have that kind of money. And she was not ready to listen to any plea. At this point, we went back to our vehicle and wanted to go back, because my colleague said, he left his phone in the office, and that he wanted to call someone to do some clarifications.

“This was when one Erasmus Ikperinwa came on the scene and started manhandling my colleague. When I tried to intercede they attacked me” One of the vigilantes took a 2by2 wood to hit me on my back”.

“We then tried to explain to her that we were not running and besides we didn’t commit any crime too so who were we running away from? She started raining all manner of curses, she was not ready to stop, we told her that the fact that she is a police officer was not a license to defame or dehumanize lawful citizens”.

“When I saw that they were ready to kill me, I ran to the Area Commander’s office, that was when the A. O, tried to intervene in the matter.”

“For the timely intervention of the Ughelli Area Command, Admin Officer, A.O, we would have been dead or incarcerated by now.”

However, the journalists emphasized the need for accountability and an end to such acts of police brutality in Ughelli A division.

Efecha Gold
Efecha Gold
Multimedia Expert, Journalist, and Singer.


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