Few days after the National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Chris Isiguzo, adjudged Niger State as one of the journalists-friendly state, the police in the state on Tuesday assaulted the state correspondent of Channels Television, Emperor Simon, and whisked away the cameraman, Abdullahi Egba.
Narrating their ordeal, Simon said the Channel Television’s team were in Tafa Local Government Area for a follow up story on the disappearance of the Returning Officer for the local government in Saturday’s council election when the incident happened.
He said the team ran into a protest by youths who were expressing their misgivings over the cancellation of the outcome of the poll over the alleged disappearance of the Returning Officer and was caught in the commotion.
He said: “No sooner had the protesters started blocking the Kaduna-Abuja highway than the policemen at the Tafa Local Government Secretariat started shooting sporadically into the air to disperse the crowd.
“The police used canisters, live ammunition to disperse protesters.
“They also beat me up with stick and gun butts.
“They whisked my Cameraman and he is being held at the Divisional Headquarters in Sabon Wuse.”
The State Chapter of the NUJ has condemned the “harassment” and “intimidation” of its members who are on lawful duties.
In a statement jointly signed by the NUJ Chairman, Alhaji Abdu Idris, and the Secretary, Abu Nmodu, the Union said the assault coming a few days after its national officers who were on duty tour of the state adjudged Niger as one of the journalists-friendly states, was “distasteful and unacceptable”.
The Union called on police authority to rein in its officers and men, warning that it would no longer tolerate assault on its members henceforth.
Also the Peoples Democratic Party in the state has condemned the police for assaulting its members who are on peaceful protest and the journalists, describing their action as inhuman and undemocratic.
Speaking with our Correspondent on phone, the state Secretary of the party, Suleiman Zhigun, said the party sensed foul play when the announcement of the poll result from polling units collation indicated it won, was delayed only for the Niger State Independent Electoral Commission to come out later that the Returning Officer has disappeared and the election cancelled.
Meanwhile, Egba has regained his freedom after about four hours in Police custody at the Tafa Divisional Police Station.
His release followed the directives given by the Police Commissioner Adamu Usman, to the Divisional Officer.
According to Egba: “I was forced by the Investigation Police Officer in charge of the case to write a statement that I was the one leading the protest.
“The policemen seized our camera and threatened to destroy it, but for the intervention of the CP they released the camera to our crew.”