The Champion Newspaper correspondent was manhandled.
Officers of the Ebonyi State Command of the Nigerian Police on Thursday in Abakaliki manhandled an Ebonyi State Correspondent of Champion Newspapers, Augustine Anioke, at the state command’s headquarters.
The correspondent was shoved by the police men over trumped up claims that he was taking pictures of a suspect in an ongoing murder investigation.
Mr. Anioke, in the company of about five other journalists from different media houses, had gone to the station at about 10 a.m. to get the police to react to the crackdown on tricycle operators in the capital that morning.
The correspondent, however, said he only brought the phone from his pocket to check his messages, when a plain clothe officer forcefully dragged it from him. He refused to surrender the phone and a struggle ensued.
The struggle attracted journalists and other police men in the station. The officers numbering about five physically shoved and dragged the Champion Newspaper correspondent, behind the counter for refusing to surrender his phones.
Mr. Anioke later listened to the plea of other journalists to let go of the phone to avoid it being damaged.
“After a short while, I brought out my second phone, a Nokia C2, which had been in my trouser pocket all the time and gave to them to hold since they were interested in holding my phones, they didn’t even know I was with another phone.
“A few moments later one of the officers came and told me to follow him to see their senior officer who after listening to him ordered that the phones be returned to me,” Mr. Anosike said.
He said the cops insisted that he opened the picture gallery of the Nokia phone.
“I obediently did to show that I did nothing wrong not knowing that the officers had taken a picture of the officer who tried to grab the phone in a bid to frame me up and then capitalise on that to arrest me”
When the Champion Newspaper correspondent opened the pictures gallery and saw the picture he raised an alarm of frame up and called his other colleagues who confirmed that he never brought out the Nokia phone.
This led to another round of arguments and further threats from the officers to arrest him for daring to take pictures of a police officer.
The policemen then demanded that the pictures be deleted but Mr. Anioke refused saying that since he did not take the pictures, he will not delete it.
“I told them to delete it themselves since they took it. I think they used the Nokia phone because they could not unlock the Blackberry which was passworded.
“The Police have returned the phones, but the BlackBerry was damaged,” he said.
And after keeping journalists who came to be briefed on the tricycle incident for over three hours, the police did not give out any information, without providing a reason.
The attack on the journalist comes barely a few days after another journalist, Uchenna Inya of a local newspaper in the state, Citizens Advocate, was beaten to a pulp at the premises of the state police headquarters.
Journalists have often faced brutality in the hands of Nigerian security officials. Numerous times, they have been interrupted rudely, harassed and detained in the line of duty.
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