The Akwa Ibom correspondent of ‘The Nation Newspaper’ was pummeled by the SSS in Akwa Ibom.
The Nation Newspaper reporter, Kazeem Ibrahym, who was brutalized by operatives of the State Security Service, SSS, during Governor Godswill Akpabio birthday bash on Sunday in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State Capital, has described his experience with the security men as ‘harrowing.’
The correspondent, who is currently recuperating, recounted his raw ordeal to PREMIUM TIMES on Monday. He was viciously manhandled by four SSS operatives at the entrance of the Governor’s lodge in Uyo, where he and his colleagues were on official invitation to cover the commemorative dinner in honour of the governor.
Mr. Ibrahim, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, said though the aching pains from the beating is gradually subsiding, he is still experiencing pounding headache as a result of the blows and punches he received from his assailants.
The reporter, who attempted a mental reconstruction of what happened on Sunday, said he was kicked, boxed and punched severally by the three operatives, before being dragged on the concrete floor after he momentarily lost consciousness.
“We were waiting outside the entrance of the banquet hall with a couple of our colleagues till the CPS arrived and asked us to go inside,” Mr. Ibrahym said. “On getting to security point of the hall, the CPS, on going through, turned to point to operatives the journalists he was coming with.
“About four of the journalists had passed when, suddenly, as I made to pass that one of the operatives pulled me back and ordered me to go back. When I protested the treatment as an invitee, another operative, by name Charles, emerged from behind and pounced on me and started beating me, before others joined.
“He held me by the neck; the other hit me in the head, while the third person dragged me by my trouser and kicked me. I did not know who among them gave me a punch that pushed me down, before another dragged me on the bare floor.
“I must have hit myself badly somewhere, and it was at that point that I lost consciousness. The beating attractedthe attention of my other colleagues, who rushed down with the CPS to protest that I should not be treated like a criminal.
“I was still sitting there on the ground, and my colleagues were fanning me to recover consciousness when the head of the operatives, Shola (Aguda) came outside and started raining abuses on me.”
The reason for the attack is hazy, but witnesses said when Mr. Aguda arrived at the gate on his way to attend the ceremony, he saw Mr. Ibrahim being assaulted by his colleagues. He allegedly stopped to personally supervise and prod the physical assault by his colleagues.
Not even the intervention of the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Anietie Ukpe, who was in the company of four other journalists and some guests at the time of the incident, could dissuade the operatives, led by one Charles, from pounding the hapless reporter.
Mr. Aguda even threatened to beat up the CPS, whom he said dared to inquire what led to the attack, warning him to back off or he would cause him to be detained.
“You are an idiot to demand to know what happened,” Mr. Ibrahim recalled overhearing the boastful Mr. Aguda shout out at the CPS. “Stay out of this, or you will regret it, because I will make sure you are detained and nothing will happen. I don’t care if you are the Press Secretary or whatever. Anybody can be a Press Secretary, but I can assure you, you can never attain my position in the service, which is an equivalent of a lieutenant Colonel in the army.”
Aggrieved journalists billed to protest
The State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, are billed to embark on a protest march, Tuesday, in the state capital to register their disgust over the incident, which has already attracted international outrage and condemnation.
The Chairman of the Council, Joe Effiong, said on Monday that the protest march would enable members register their displeasure for the public assault and dehumanisation of their colleagues by the SSS, whose Director, Toma Minti, has so far refused to either apologise or sanction his subjects for the embarrassing treatment.
An official in the director’s office, who refused to give his name on phone on Monday, told PREMIUM TIMES that he had already contacted the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Anietie Ukpe, to assure him that he will address the problem.
“A reaction has been sent to the CPS. You can meet the CPS and discuss with him. We have also met with some of the affected journalists,” the official said.
But, the NUJ Chairman, denied knowledge of any such moves by the SSS boss, dismissing the action as his personal decision. He said the journalist will go ahead with the planned protest march on Tuesday.
“I am not aware of any reaction from the Director of SSS since the incident happened,” Mr. Effiong said. “I am also not aware of any reaction either to the CPS or any of the correspondents. If there is any such reaction, it must have been personal, and not formal or official. The director has all my numbers. He has not called me since the incident happened.
He said the union has received an official complaint from its Correspondent Chapel on what happened.
“The least we expect from the SSS is for them to come to the congress of the NUJ on Thursday and apologise to members for the undeserved embarrassment.
“Failure to do that, we may be compelled to consider other options, which details would be finalised at the meeting,” he said.
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