As the growing call for officers of the Nigerian Police Force to be civil in the discharge of their duty, an overzealous and trigger happy members of the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), Delta state command attached to the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, have molested a journalist on duty.
The officers whose identities could not be ascertain pounced on The Nigerian Xpress Newspaper Correspodent, Godwin Udoh, for challenging the officers over intimidation.
The incident occurred Wednesday at the State House of Assembly Complex shortly after the governor presented the budget to the House members and was fielding questions from journalists at the entrance door to the Chambers.
Trouble started when a member of the governor’s press crew in charge of the governor’s microphone and the speaker which amplifies the governor’s voice, changed direction due to interference on the waive which led some journalists to follow him but were stopped by the police who ordered that no journalist should step beyond that boundary.
The Nigerian Xpress Newspaper reporter, who is the Assistant Secretary, Indigenous Correspondents’ Chapel (ICC), who told the officer that he should be allowed to record received attacks from the CTU members to his dismay.
One of them fair in complexion used his communication garget on the journalist’s face when the reporter tried to resist him over the intimidation, another one behind him rushed the journalist while another who is dark in complexion and plumpy, identified by his rank as DSP, slapped the journalist and used his gun boot on the journalist while the governor was still briefing, before other journalists rushed to the scene to rescue their colleague.
Our correspodent who was by the side of the attacked journalist who tried to pacify the security personnel inspite of his overbearing and uncivilized attitude was also threatened to be beaten up.
Investigation revealed that the officer who embarrassed the reporter, is the governor’s escort commander.
Narrating his ordeal in the hand of the police, the journalist said: “when the man carrying the speaker left where we were standing, I and other journalists followed him. The police officer told me to stay back but I told him that I wanted to record.
“He told me that he will slap me if I make any other comment. I then told him that this is intimidation. He started using the communication garget to hit me on my mouth.
“The other one behind him came and asked me to leave, it was then I left the scene but he walked up to where I was standing to slap me. In the process I lost my phone, my recording garget. As I talk with you, my teeth is paining me, I have even gone to the hospital for check up”, the journalist narrated.
In a swift reaction, chairman of the Indigenous Correspondents’ Chapel, Barth Ozah, said the action of the police officer was condemnable, calling on the governor to call his orderlies to order as the police officer cannot prevent journalists from carrying out their legitimate duties.
He said the 1999 constitution as amended empowers journalists to carry out their responsibilities within the parameters of the law, adding that since the journalists were carrying out their functions within the law, it was unlawful for the officer to slap him when it was obvious that he didn’t go against the law.
Meanwhile, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had presented N389.1billion to the state house of assembly for the 2020 fiscal year. The budget has N171.5billion as recurrent expenditure and N217.5billion as capital expenditure. The recurrent expenditure is 44.08 percent while capital expenditure is 55.92 percent.
In contrast with the 2019 budget, the 2020 budget is N1billion lower than that of 2019 which was N390.3billion. The 2019 budget had N157billion as recurrent expenditure while N223.2billion as capital expenditure.