NSCDC officers brutalise Journalist in Anambra

NSCDC officers brutalise Journalist in Anambra

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10 officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) launched a brutal attack on journalist Izunna Okafor, accusing the media of being part of Nigeria’s problems, on Saturday in Awka, the capital of Anambra state.

It was gathered that the journalist was in the same bus with the Civil Defence officials, who were conveyed with him from Awka to the venue of the Anambra South Rally of the Soludo Ambassadors, held at Nnewi. The same bus (provided by the organisers of the event) also conveyed them back to Awka.

Recounting the harrowing experience, the journalist, who said the officials had earlier complained of hunger and frustration on their way back from the rally, said the trouble started when he wanted to alight at the popular UNIZIK Junction Awka from the bus that was conveying them.

He said after he repeatedly informed and reminded the driver that he would alight at the UNIZIK Junction, he ignored the instruction of the Civil Defence officers, who insisted that everybody must remain on the bus and follow them to the very last bus stop where they themselves would alight.

He said it was only when he spoke loudly that some other civil defence officials and some attendants of the rally in the same bus told the driver to stop for him to alight.

According to him, what followed was an appalling display of aggression.

Narrating further, he said when he alighted, he could not see his second phone, which fell out inside the bus when the driver was at a high speed. However, as he informed them that his phone fell off inside the bus and that he would want to pick it up, the aggressive civil defence officers ordered the driver to speed off, moving without listening to him.

He said as he was stretching his hand to request the phone from the person who volunteered to pick it for him, one of the Civil Defence officials attached to the Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA) callously ordered the driver to speed off and then furiously jammed the door of the bus, leaving him with severe hand injuries caused by the forceful and unexpected locking of the bus door.

Okafor, who was in severe pain, said he had no other option but to board another commercial transport to go to the place that the Civil Defence officers said would be the last bus stop.

According to him, when he got there and sought an explanation from the particular officer for his action, the situation escalated further and aggravated to chaos as the officer began questioning him back on what gave him the boldness to ask him such a question as a uniformed and armed man. He said while the Civil Defence officer began to raise his voice at him, he also conked his gun, while his colleagues, numbering about 11, rushed out and irrationally descended on him, physically assaulting him, kicking, and menacingly hitting him with gun heads.

Okafor said some of the Civil Defence officers also conked their guns and even threatened to shoot him while beating him up, but for the pleas of some other people who were there witnessing what was happening. He said the Civil Defence officers also accused Nigerian journalists of being a major part of Nigeria’s problem, while they themselves stand and suffer under the sun to protect the country and her citizens.

According to the journalist, it took the intervention of Mr. Ossy Onuko, the Managing Director of the Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA), to quell the violence.

Despite Okafor eventually retrieving his phone and receiving an apology from Mr. Onuko, the Civil Defence officers continued threatening him, vowing to track him and further deal with him. He said the officers further boasted that no one could stop them from unleashing their mayhem on him, as anyone who would attempt to do so should first care for their welfare before advising them.

The journalist, left with injuries, is currently seeking medical attention as of the time he recounted his ordeal to our correspondent.

Okafor, who said he could identify the officers involved in attacking him, added that he had recently reported the incident to the Public Relations Officer of the Anambra State Command of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps, Edwin Okadigbo, who promised to look into the matter.

In a swift reaction, the State Commandant of NSCDC, Mr. Edwin Osuala, described the incident as unprofessional on the side of his men.

His reaction was contained in a statement signed and made available to journalists in Awka on Sunday by the State Command’s Public Relations Officer, DSC Okadigbo Edwin.

The statement read in part;

“The State Commandant of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Anambra State Command, Mr. Edwin Osuala, found the report unacceptable and has ordered the Deputy Commandant in charge of Investigation and Intelligence Department to immediately commence a full-scale investigation into the matter with a view to bringing anyone found complicit to book.

Mr. Osuala noted that the NSCDC, as a reputable paramilitary agency in good working relationship with the Nigeria Union of Journalists, would stop at nothing in making sure appropriate disciplinary sanctions are meted against any of the personnel found wanting.

“I have always partnered with members of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) closely in showcasing most of our activities and achievements in the fight against insecurity. I would not want this isolated case to sever the good relationship I have with them. I always urge personnel to be cautious and polite in dealing with members of the public in the discharge of their duties. If after investigation, they are guilty of the offence, definitely they will face the music as a deterrent to other personnel.

 

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