Rights group petitions IGP over assault on journalist in Ebonyi

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Inspector General of Police

A rights group, Human Rights Liberty Access and Peace Defenders Foundation (HURIDE) has petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) over alleged assault on Punch reporter in Ebonyi.

The petition dated, July 29, 2020 was signed by Mr Samson Nweke, HURIDE chairman in Ebonyi branch and made available to SummitNews Correspondent in Abakaliki on Thursday.

The group in the petition called on the IGP to open up thorough investigation into the alleged human rights abuse and threat to life of Mr Edward Nnachi, Punch report in Ebonyi.

Nnachi was allegedly assaulted by a suspected member of the Ebonyi Neighborhood Watch who claimed to be working on the instructions of Chief Stanley Emegha, Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace.

The petition was captioned, ‘Save our Souls
Re: Human Right Abuses, Threat To The Life Of Edward Nnachi And Other Journalists In Ebonyi By Agents Purportedly Working For The Ebonyi Government And Demand For Thorough Investigation In The Interest Of Justice.’

The group which chronicled series of reported attacks and violations of the fundamental rights of journalists and others by agents of government urged the IGP to launch full and unbiased probe into the alleged rights violations of Nnachi and others.

HURIDE alleged that Nnachi has been under pressure from some appointees of the state government over a report he did on Ezzagu community in Ishielu local government area of Ebonyi where he brought to the fore the plight of people of the area.

The petition read in part: “Saying that it is a trying time for journalist and media practitioners in Ebonyi is an understatement.

” Do we talk about Mr Charles Otu’s almost death torture which till date was swept under the carpet or Nwoba Chika Nwoba’s near to death scenario?

“Do we also talk of Ejike Agbo’s incidence, or the Vanguard and Sun correspondents, Messrs Peter Okutu and Chijoke Agwu’s recent banishment though lifted?

“Or the Amasiri incident where a man of God was nearly sent to the great beyond for reporting attacks on innocent citizens by power mongers in the area?

“The case of Edward Nnachi, a Punch correspondent is yet another way of suppressing the truth in Ebonyi.

“The reporter had after his daily news gathering activities on Thursday, July 23 went to the Government House for some enquiries when he was accosted by the suspect.

” He trailed the reporter to the Udensi Roundabout, where he was to board a tricycle home.

“On entering the tricycle, the ‘official’ blocked the way and ordered the reporter to alight and follow him or face his anger.

“Nnachi asked that he identify himself and who sent him.

“While refusing to disclose his name, he claimed to be working for the Neighbourhood Security Watch.

“An argument ensued between them from 6.30pm till 7.30pm, when the suspect eventually claimed that he was directed by the Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Mr Stanley Emegha, to bring the reporter to his office in the Government House.

“At this point, Nnachi accepted to follow him to the commissioner’s office, while also calling the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Loveth Odah, on the phone.

“The suspect, who appeared to be in a hurry, however, started dragging the reporter to the Government House, while intermittently talking to an unknown person on the phone.

“While forcing the reporter, he said, “Oga, you must follow me to the Government House.

“You are not going anywhere; Our Oga, the commissioner for internal security, asked me to bring you and so, you must follow me to the Government House now!

“Don’t drag with me; just follow me. Don’t let me deal with you here.

” It took the intervention of some policemen on patrol, who arrived at the scene, to save the journalist.”

The suspect while being interrogated by the cops, affirmed that he worked for the Ebonyi Neighbourhood Security Watch and that he was under instruction to bring the reporter to the Government House.

Nweke said that the intervention of the policemen on surveillance patrol saved Nnachi from being abducted by the suspected hoodlum.

He said: “More worrisome is that the assailant refused to tender his identity card when he was asked by the police but rather claimed that he lost his ID many months ago.

“He also refused to disclose his name to the policemen; the officers then threw him into the patrol van.

“The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Youth Mobilisation and President, Akubaraoha Youth Assembly, Mr Mark Onu, later intervened and he was released.”

The group which deplored the unprovoked attacks on journalists carrying out their legitimate duty of informing and educating the public appealed to the IGP to intervene and provide conducive environment for media practitioners to operate in the state.

In view of the above we make the following request: “That immediate investigation should be launched by your men to unearth the whole truth about the human right abuses on journalists and other media practitioners in Ebonyi.

“That the nefarious activities of the agents of the present administration in Ebonyi especially on the death threat issued to Mr Edward Nnachi of Punch be judiciously looked into as to unveil the persons behind this dastardly act.

“That Ebonyi is quick turning to a state of nature as envisaged by Hobbes where ‘life is nasty, brutish and short’ owing to the activities of this hench men who are hell bent on soiling the good name of the governor of Ebonyi even though they purport to work for him.

“That the life of Mr Edward Nnachi is not only been threatened by this agents of darkness but also that of his family for reporting the dilapidated state of Ezzagu community and the sorry state of the non existing social amenities in the area.

“That the security agencies in the state seem to be helpless as none of the incidents reported to them saw the light of the day and we have it on strong conviction that this too, may go the same way.

“We implore you to use your good offices to come to the aid of Ebonyi journalists and other media practitioners.”

Our Correspondent reports that the petition was copied to Amnesty International ; the Police Service Commission, Minister of Interior and the National Human Rights Commission.

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