By Peter Duru
MAKURDI -The National Vice President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Zone â€˜Dâ€™, Mrs. Joyce Akuragha, has described the violent attack on the Benue State Correspondent of Daily Trust Newspapers, Mr. Joseph Hir, as unacceptable and condemnable.
Mrs. Akuragha who described the attack on the newsman as barbaric and uncivil regretted that at this time of the nationâ€™s democratic history, some persons still felt that the only avenue to settle scores with newsmen was resort to violence.
She warned that the NUJ would not accept such acts against its members for whatever reasons, warning that journalists would not be intimidated by self seeking politicians who would stop at nothing to reach their goals.
She urged the State Police Command to identify and prosecute all those that participated or played whatever role in the attack of the journalist in Benue State.
In the same vein, the Acting Governor of Benue State, Chief Steve Lawani, has condemned the attack, regretting that the incident happened when the government was doing everything possible to stem the wave of violence in the state.
According to a statement signed by Mr. Cletus Akwaya, Media Adviser to the Governor, the Police in the state has been directed to â€œlaunch a full scale investigation into the incident and to stop at nothing to unravel the identity of those behind the ugly incident with a view to bringing them to book.â€
Vanguard recalled that last Friday, a gang of armed thugs ambushed and attacked the Benue State Correspondent of Daily Trust Newspapers, Mr. Hir Joseph who escaped death by the whiskers due to the timely intervention of a vigilance group operating in the Judges Quarters extension area of Makurdi town where the incident took place.
However, the men who were armed with dangerous weapons succeeded in smashing all the windscreens and the engine component of his car, a Honda Acura with number plate, AU 423 SKK.
The gunmen also manhandled the reporter before they were chased away by vigilance group members who had mobilised to the area.
In an interview at the State Police Headquarters, Joseph Hir told newsmen that the previous day at a public function at Adoka in Otukpo local government area, a certain Commissioner serving in the State Executive Council had threatened him, claiming that the reporter had not been patriotic in his reports.
He added that the same evening, a female commissioner had called him on phone for over 20 minutes, issuing veiled threats over a report she found unpalatable.