Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Delta State, Mr. Michael Ikeogwu on Wednesday alleged that he was assaulted by the officials of the state taskforce on environment while monitoring the level of compliance to lockdown order issued by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to prevent the outbreak of Coronavirus in the state.
Ikeogwu was in company with the correspondent of Daily Post, Matthew Omonigho at Otiotio Street , Asaba ,where the incident occurred.
According to the NUJ , he had approached the officials who earlier ordered residents of the area to embark on forceful environmental sanitation despite the stay-at-home order declared by government.
He said the officials led by Kingsley Iweka allegedly ordered his men who were over twenty in number to pounce on him and the reporter, destroying his Nikon D3100 photo camera.
Besides, he alleged that they were held hostage for about 45 minutes, noting that it however took the intervention of the State Chairman of the taskforce, Mr. Syvelster Oromoni to calm frayed nerves through a telephone call.
Ikeogwu said journalists were no longer safe in the state, and wondered what would become of the ordinary man in the society if government officials could attack and assault him and his colleague even after identifying himself as the number one journalist in the state .
Ikeogwu also decried the incident as uncalled for, unwarranted and condemnable, wondering why the taskforce would be working in contravention to the order of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
“Today is not environmental sanitation. Why should a taskforce constituted for environmental sanitation come out on a day that people were asked to stay at home to enforce environmental sanitation?
“Their order was further endangering the lives of the people as it contravenes the social order of the governor. That was why I intervened to stop them from what they were doing. But they claimed that the order was from their chairman.
“I am disappointed in the attitude of the leader of the team having after introducing myself to him who ordered his boys to attack me and my colleague. I wish to call on the state governor to look into this matter because many people will fall victim of this before the end of the lockdown order.
“It was the residents of the area who called us to come and see what was happening, how they were being forced to come and do environmental sanitation. However, I thank God it didn’t go beyond that. I will go and treat myself because I was attacked,” he alleged.
Some residents of the area who spoke after the altercation between the NUJ chairman and the taskforce condemned the acts.
They said it was not environmental day just as they wondered why they were forced to come out for sanitation.
One of the resident l,Mohammed said,”We were forced out of our houses. If you say No, they will beat and arrest you. That’s why I came out like other people for the sanitation.”