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NUJ laments invasion of Abia Press Centre by soldiers, assault on journalists •We’ll punish culprits — Army

By News Express on 13/09/2017

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•Armed soldiers
•Armed soldiers

Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Zone C (South East) on Tuesday evening cried out over the invasion, earlier in the day, of its Press Centre in Abia State Council, at Umuahia today 12th September, 2017, by the Nigerian army. The union in a statement by Vice President Zone C, Comrade Chris Isiguzo, and Secretary, Comrade Kenneth Ofoma, strongly condemned the action, asking if Nigeria is now a police state.

The statement reads: “The attention of the leadership of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Zone C (South East) has been drawn to the unwarranted invasion of the Press Centre of NUJ, Abia State Council, at Umuahia today 12th September, 2017, by the Nigerian army.

The military personnel reportedly beat up journalists at sight and destroyed their working tools such as Samsung Tablets, mobile telephones, and mini-recorders. The military men also destroyed furniture, documents and other property yet to be quantified.

“This unprovoked attack, to say the least, is barbaric and shameful, and a throwback to dark days of military dictatorship, which the media and other well meaning organizations and individuals fought hard to change the regime and psyche.

“The attack on the journalists on the ostensible suspicion of taking photos and/or videos of the military on a “show of strength” in a highly populated busy street, without any atom of security threat, calls to question; whether Nigeria is still operating a civil democracy or military dictatorship? Has Nigeria returned to the dark days of police state? Or is Nigeria at war?

“If indeed the military wants to “showcase her strength”, what is wrong in the media, if at all they took pictures or video, in helping them to showcase the military power? Haven’t they been calling for media support and collaboration?

“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the military to order. Nigeria deserves peace and development, and South East is peaceful, as we have no evidence that Governors from this zone, who are the Chief Security Officers of the zone, had made any request for military deployment. Even the latest United Nation’s report indicates that South East geo-political zone is the most peaceful in the country.

“We call on the National Assembly and the International Community to weigh into this fragrant abuse of human rights, and premeditated provocation of civil disobedience that might precipitate shedding of innocent blood.

“We also call on the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff and the General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Nigerian Army Enugu to take note of this unprofessional conducts and punish the unruly officers. They should also take immediate steps to replace damaged equipments/gadgets and compensate our colleagues manhandled. There must be rules of engagement in line with international best practices.

“Finally, we advise the Federal Government to adopt dialogue in handling issues of pro-Biafra agitations in the zone, which many have described as a metaphor for so many contradictions and the state of anomy in the economic and socio-political life of the country. All these had equally resulted in strident calls from different quarters for urgent restructuring of the country. The Federal Government cannot be impervious to the building tension, frustration and suffering of Nigerians and shouldn’t pour fuel into a gathering fire.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army in its reaction claimed that there was no fracas between journalists and soldiers in Umuahia, even as it expressed regrets over the incident and vowed to punish erring soldiers.

A statement signed by Assistant Director Public Relations 14 Brigade, Major Oyegoke Badamosi, said: “The attention of 14 Brigade Nigerian Army, has been drawn to social media publications alleging that troops on patrol in Umuahia town have invaded the NUJ Press Centre in Umuahia at about 10:00 a.m. today.

“While it was true there was an issue between some soldiers  on routine patrol, the magnitude is not as was reported. What happened was that while the soldiers on patrol near the Abia State NUJ Secretariat, they noticed some people filming them. Unfortunately, they seized and damaged their recording devices; an iPad and 2 mobile phones. Preliminary investigation shows that the items belongs to journalists on their legitimate duties. “Consequently, the Commander 14 Brigade and Deputy Director Army Public Relations 82 Division  waded into the matter which has since been resolved amicably.

“In addition, the soldiers involved and will face disciplinary action.

“The public are please requested to eschew rumour mongering and go about their lawful business.”

 

Source News Express

Posted 13/09/2017 12:55:52 AM

 

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