By Festus Ahon, Egufe Yafugborhi, Akpokona Omafuaire, Godwin Oghre & Ochuko Akuopha
ASABA—Police officers attached to Ughelli Police ‘A’ Division, Delta State, Sunday, assaulted and stopped journalists present at the Ughelli office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from monitoring the collation of result of Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Lamenting his ordeal after spending close to one hour behind the counter, Vanguard’s Perez Brisibe, said that when he got to the INEC collation centre at 6:15a.m., an officer attached to the Counter Terrorism Unit, CTU barked at him, asking who he was, adding that after showing the officer his INEC media accreditation card, the officer said: “Is that why you are walking freely into the premises? In short leave this place now.”
According to Perez, while trying to explain to the officer the need to allow him access the collation centre, two other officers accosted him from behind saying, “Who gave you the guts to talk back to an officer? Obey the order and get out of this premises.”
This he said was followed by slaps and punches from other officers including a female CTU officer, who freely used a horse wipe on him.
He said: “In obeying their order, I was walking out and trying to inform my colleagues of what had transpired when two of them pounced on me again saying, ‘You are making calls abi? In short, we are locking you up’.
“At that point, they dragged me across the main road like a common criminal to the police station, dumped me in a tear gassed passage way leading to the cell and forced me to sit on the bare floor after confiscating my phone and tearing my shirt to shreds.
“While on the floor, I noticed a senior police officer at the counter. That was when I raised my voice, calling his attention and telling him that was a journalist. After showing him my INEC accreditation tag and telling him that his men had assaulted and bundled me behind the counter for no clear reason, he ordered that I be released immediately.”
Recounting his ordeal, the publisher of Advocate Newspaper, Mr. Shedrack Onitsha, who had gone to the station to inquire on the position of things with the detained journalist, was also assaulted by police officers on the order of the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, Mr. Hassan Galadima.
According to Mr. Onitsha, “When I got to the station, after identifying myself, I told the officer at the counter that my colleague was detained. The officer said: ‘Do you want to join him behind the counter or what?’
“It was at that point that an officer at the counter I later identified as the DPO barked at me saying, ‘Who is this madman; my friend buddle him out of this place.’ At that point, one of the officers implementing the order, bundled me and threw me outside the station after giving me multiple slaps.”
Calling on the police leadership to call their men to order, the journalists called for the immediate transfer of the DPO, Mr. Galadima from the area.
…Delta LG boss attacks journalists
In another development, thugs loyal to the Ethiope East Local Government Area Chairman, Chief Faith Majemite, weekend, assaulted journalists present at the INEC office, Isiokolo.
Trouble started when a chieftain of the Labour Party, LP, Dr Festus Arunaye, accosted Chief Majemite in company of her armed police escort and thugs inside the INEC office for allegedly presiding over distribution of voting materials.
Thugs loyal to the council boss threatened to break the camera of the AIT correspondent and the Vanguard reporter who attempted to capture the scuffle on camera, saying: “After this election, I will find you to your house and you will have yourself to blame.”
On her part, Chief Majemite questioned the presence of Dr Arunaye in the INEC office while Arunaye alleged that Chief Majemite harassed him when he raised alarm over her presence inside the INEC office despite warning by the electoral umpire against the presence of politicians with their armed escorts at the various INEC centres.