Nigeria Police, Rivers State Command has drawn the ire of the state council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) for allegedly crossing the line when some reporters were carrying out their duties.
A union official in Port Harcourt, the state capital, told Naija News on the telephone on Tuesday that police operatives callously attacked some journalists in the state.
Irked by the development, the union has asked the Command to apologise for the ‘’uncivilised’’ conduct of its operatives or brace for war it will regret.
The incident allegedly took place on Friday at the state High Court during the trial of a governorship aspirant of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Farah Dagogo, a federal legislator.
Police officers who were drafted to the court complex allegedly assaulted and harassed reporters who were there to cover the controversial case that is fueling ethnic tension in the big oil and gas state.
Chairman and Secretary of the state council of NUJ, Stanley Job Stanley and Ike Wigodo, respectively in a joint statement said the assault and harassment was ‘’barbaric, uncivilized and uncalled for’’.
The council is also calling on the police authorities in the state to caution their men and officers against unprofessional conduct, especially as the 2023 general elections are fast approaching
According to the union, those assaulted, harassed, and intimidated were 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.
According to the statement, NUJ is condemning 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 to 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 uncivilized, 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.”