From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State Council, has condemned the recent attack on journalists by men of the Rivers State Police Command.
The union in a statement by its Chairman and Secretary, Stanley Job Stanley and Ike Wigodo respectively, said the assault and harassment, which took place last Friday, at the Rivers State High Court during the trial of a governorship aspirant of the PDP, Farah Dagogo, was barbaric, uncivilised and uncalled for.
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The union listed those assaulted, harassed and intimidated as Anita Ogona, Allwell Ene of Naija FM, Ayo Odungweru of Wave FM, Chiweta Nwagbara of Love FM, Soibi Oruwari of Nigeria Info, and Monica Ogwa and Chuks Nweke of Rhythm FM.
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It condemned in its entirety, the unprovoked attack, harassment and intimidation by the armed police personnel who did not only bully the seven journalists, but also used the butts of their guns to hit and visit bodily injuries on one of them, in an attempt to prevent them from covering the court proceedings involving the federal lawmaker.
“How would the police in this modern age, prevent journalists from covering court proceedings to the extent of injuring them and smashing their property? Whose interest was the police serving by preventing newsmen from covering court proceedings? Even in the stone age when governance was brutish and nasty, this unprofessional conduct by the police was unexpected.
“The union views the action of the police personnel as irresponsible and uncivilised, capable of eroding the public confidence in them as well as straining the existing cordial relationship between the NUJ and the Rivers State Police Command. We, therefore, demand a public apology from the Rivers State Police Command within 48 hours to assuage the feelings of the victims. While awaiting the reaction of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police on the matter, the Union requests that those responsible for the attack and assault be made to face the full weight of the law.”