Press Freedom: Journalists Not Safe In Delta State, NUJ State Chairman, Ikeogwu Cries Out
… As Taskforce Assaults him, One Other Journalist.
By Iteveh Ekpokpobe
Journalists in Delta State are no longer safe to operate freely, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ), Delta State in Southern region of Nigeria, Comrade Michael Ikeogwu has cried out.
Ikeogwu expressed his dissatisfaction after officials of Delta State Taskforce on Environment, Wednesday, April 1, attacked and assaulted him as well as Daily Post Correspondent, Matthew Omonigho who were monitoring the level of compliance on the “Social distance” order of the State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa with respect to the Coronavius pandemic at Otiotio Street in Uvwie Local Government Area.
The NUJ Chairman had approached the Environment Officials who forced residents of Otiotio Street out of their houses to come out for environmental sanitation against the “Stay at home” order of the governor.
But the Environment Officials led by one Kingsley Iweka ordered his team of over 20 men to pounce on the NUJ Chairman and Daily Post Correspondent and eventually destroying his Nikon D3100 Camera.
It was gathered that the Environment Taskforce Officials also held the NUJ Chairman, Comrade Ikeogwu and his colleague hostage for about 45 minutes.
However, it took the swift intervention of the State Chairman of the Environment Taskforce, Mr. Syvelster Oromoni, to calm the nerves of his overzealous Officers through a telephone call.
In a chat with Our Correspondent, Comrade Ikeogwu said the lives of Journalists are not safe in the State.
He wondered what would become of the ordinary man in the society if Government Officials could attack and assault him and his colleague even after identifying himself as the number one Journalist in the State.
Ikeogwu also decried the incident as uncalled for, unwarranted and condemnable wondering why the taskforce would work in contravention to the order of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
According to him, “Today is not environmental sanitation. Why should a taskforce constituted for environmental sanitation come out on a day that people were asked to stay at home to enforce environmental sanitation?
He said, “Their order was further endangering the lives of the people as it contravenes the social order of the Governor. That. Was why I intervened to stop them from what they were doing. But they claimed that the order was from their Chairman.”
“I am disappointed in the attitude of the leader of the team having after introduced myself to him, ordered his boys to attack me and my colleague. I wish to call on the State Governor to look into this matter because many people will fall victim of this before the end of the lockdown order.”
“It was the residents of the area who called us to come and see what happening. How they were being forced to come and do environmental sanitation. However, I thank God it didn’t go beyond that. I go and treat myself because I was attacked.” Ikeogwu stressed.
Some residents of the area who spoke after the altercation between the NUJ Chairman and the Taskforce condemned the acts.
They said it was not environmental day just as they wondered why they were forced to come out for sanitation.
One of the resident simply identified as Mohammed said, “We were forced out of our houses. If you say No, they will beat and arrest you. That’s why I came out like other people for the sanitation.”