By Emeka Nwokocha
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Council, has wielded the big stick at the Nigeria police force as Journalists have been barred from covering every police related activities in the state. The order was contained in a press statement issued by the union and jointly signed by the Chairman, Comrade Mike Ikeogwu, and Secretary, Comrade Patrick Ochei, in reaction to a brutal attack on Vanguard Correspondent, Akpokona Omafuaire by errant policemen attached to Ovwian/Aladja Police Division.
In the same vein, the NUJ called for removal of the Divisional Police Officer at Ovwian/Aladja Police Division for gross incompetence, even as it called on the police hierarchy to fish out Sergeant Godspower and his cohorts who perpetrated the dastardly act for appropriate sanction.
The attack has generated wide condemnation from Nigerians and various institutions across the state including the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA).
The statement reads:
“The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Council, has placed a ban on the coverage of all police activities in the state over the unwarranted attack and brutalization of Vanguard Correspondent, Akpokona Omafuaire. We are sobre that the police could be insensitive to the plight of our member who is lying at the hospital yet without any care and attention from those who inflicted the injury on him.
The Council is taken aback at the high-handedness of police in Delta State as many journalists have one story or the other to tell about their experiences in the hands of those who are supposed to protect them since the #ENDSARS Protest began. Akpokona’s case is one of the numerous issues of police brutality the Council has recorded in the past few months and can no longer fold her hands and watch her members endlessly being molested, beaten, harassed, brutalised, intimidated and detained by police.”
The statement continued, “right now we are calling on our members in the Council to stop attending police press briefings, stop using their press releases, stop covering their activities or taking interviews from them henceforth. We are in support of the victim seeking redress in court and we will join him to get justice.”
“The PPRO whose office it is to coordinate police relationship with the media has shown disdain and no concern to the frequent harassment, intimidation and brutalization of journalists in the State. It is on this note that we are calling first, for the removal of the DPO of Owvian/Aladja Police Division for gross incompetence and then the police hierarchy should fish out Sergeant Godspower and his cohorts for appropriate sanction.
“We will maintain working synergy and cordial relationship with the Police Command in the State if they are ready to; however, we are not ready to bury any of our members who will die from police brutality before the Police will learn how to deal with journalists.
“We reiterate that the ban on coverage of police activities takes immediate effect and any member of the Union who flouts this order will face disciplinary action from the Council. A stitch in time saves nine!”