Men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Imo State Command, Saturday, February 20, 2016 beat up, brutalised and shot at journalists over unfounded allegation of taking snapshots of four men of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) who were brutalising a young man and his pregnant wife along Okigwe Road, near NSCDC headquarters, Owerri.
Trouble started when the FRSC men at a checkpoint accosted two journalists, Mr Nnamdi Ofonye of Silverbird TV and Obioma Oburuoga of AIT, accusing them of using their phones to snap them and insisted on seizing the journalists’ phones.
They later called on men of the NSCDC in the neighbourhood to arrest the two gentlemen who were searching for a place to have their breakfast and the Civil Defence operatives on arrival dragged the journalists to their office and beat them ruthlessly.
When journalists who were at the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, secretariat to cover the meeting saw their colleagues being dragged and beaten like common criminals ran to ascertain the reason for such treatment, the NSCDC men opened fire and in the event injured one of the journalists.
Our correspondent, who was at the scene when the incident occurred, narrated that Nnamdi Ofonye of Silverbird narrowly escaped having his legs shattered by bullet but sustained minor injury on the leg with his trouser severed by bullet.
Although no life was lost in the attack as the embattled armless journalists scampered for safety in the office Announcer Express Newspaper to avoid getting injured in the process, Mr Obioma Oburuoga of AIT, Tope Kuteyi of Channels TV and Nnamdi Ofonye of Silverbird were beaten to a pulp by the ravaging civil defenders.
Narrating their ordeal after being detained for about four hours, the brutalised journalists said the incident occurred as a result of the alleged suspicion of the FRSC officers, who reportedly demanded an undisclosed amount of kickback from the husband of the pregnant woman on emergency list because of miscarriage, Mr Paschal Opara, by a road safety official who claimed the vehicle license of Opara had expired.
It took the intervention of the state Commissioner of Police, Taiwo Lakanu, and Mr Sam Onwuemeodo, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Rochas Okorocha, for the journalists to be released from the cell of the NSCDC.
The Sector Command Public Relations Officer, Mr Chimezie Norwell, confirmed the detention of the journalists at the command but appealed to them to remain calm, assuring that the cordial working relationship with men of the pen would continue uninhibited.