From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
A combined team of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC) and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) from the Imo state command yesterday went gaga as they attacked the state correspondents of the Silver Bird, Nnamdi Okonya, Africa Indpendent Television, Obioma Oburuga and Tope kuteyi of Channels Television.
This was just as the men of the NSCDC shot sporadically into the air to disperse other journalists who had come to the rescue of their colleagues who were being detained at their office at Okigwe Road command office in the Owerri Metropolis.
Trouble started when the journalists who were on duty at the PDP state secretariat opposite the NSCDC office where the FRSC officials usually mount their check point, tried to protect a bleeding woman on emergency after an official of the FRSC had allegedly demanded tips from her husband identified as Pascal Opara who was rushing her to the hospital on the excuse that his driver’s license had long expired.
However, Nnamdi Okonya of Silverbirds TV, Tope Kuteyi of Channels TV and Obioma Oburuoga of AIT who had noticed the distress of the woman on their way back to the PDP secretariat from where they had gone to buy refreshment had appealed to the NSCDC and FRSC officials to let the couple go. But rather the officials descended on them for allegedly obstructing them from carrying out their “lawful” duties.
Their anger, according to the Silver bird correspondent was that they had allegedly brought a camera to record the harassment of the couple who had refused to give them a bribe being demanded by the officers.
The sporadic shooting of the officials of the NSCDC had attracted the attention of other journalists who were at the PDP secretariat for an assignment opposite the command of the NSCDC and roadblock mounted by the FRSC.
Okonya said: “We only appealed to them to let them go after seeing the patient bleeding from her miscarriage. But rather, the FRSC man demanded for my identity card, I showed it to him and he seized it. Before we could know what was happening, they had started beating us.
“When my colleagues saw what was happening, they rushed to the scene only for the NSCDC, who saw them started shooting and my colleagues ran back,” Okonya said.
When the retreating journalists came back, some of them were arrested by the NSCDC including the victims, Okonya said.
After several hours of detention at the NSCDC office, the journalists were released through the intervention call from the state commissioner of police, Taiwo Lakanu.