Police beat up, teargas asthmatic journalist in Akwa Ibom Assembly complex
A journalist with the Akwa Ibom State Broadcasting Corporation attached to the State House of Assembly, Mr. Samuel Ayara, was on Wednesday mercilessly brutalised as a result of which he suffered eye injury from teargas spread on his face by policemen in the complex.
The policeman who allegedly initiated the assault, Sunday Agada, is attached to a lawmaker representing Ikot Abasi State Constituency, Mr. Uduak Udoudo.
While Ayara was attacked with tear gas, other policemen allegedly gathered around Ayara and used the butts of their guns to hit him.
The attack created panic, as people ran helter-skelter to avoid being affected by the teargas.
“I was going round the offices of some of lawmakers at about 12.30pm to interact with their wives who came to celebrate Valentine with their husbands. When I was in front of the office of the member representing Ikot Abasi State constituency, Mr. Uduak Udoudo, one of his security details shouted at me saying, ‘Who are you and where do you think you are going to?’
“I asked him why he yelled at me and if that was how he addressed people. Almost immediately, policemen numbering about 10 gathered around me and started beating me. Some hit me with the butts of their guns and another released a tear gas canister on my face.
“Afterwards, none of the policemen apologised to me. I am an asthmatic patient and the tear gas is dangerous to my health,” he said.
The Chairman, House Committee on Information, Mr. Ime Okon, when contacted, said the issue had not been reported to him.
He said, “The issue has not been brought to my notice. I am not aware.”
The state Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Mr. Patrick Albert, condemned the assault and said he would investigate and meet with the Speaker on the issue.
Ayara’s case was not the first time a security agent would assault a journalist in Akwa Ibom State. In December, last year, an operative of the Department of State Security (DSS) attached to the Akwa Ibom State Government House in Uyo reportedly attacked five correspondents of national newspapers.
The journalists: Iniobong Ekponta of Nigerian Tribune, Inemesit Akpansoh of The Guardian, Emeka Samuel of Nigerian Pilot and two others were assaulted at the gate of the Government House by the DSS operative.
Ekponta and his colleagues went to the Government House to keep a scheduled appointment with Mr. Ekerete Udoh, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Udom Emmanuel, but they were refused entry into the government house and, upon inquiry on why they should not be allowed in, the overzealous officer threatened to open fire on the reporters if they would not heed his instruction to reverse their car out of the Government House.
A former The Nation Correspondent, Kazeem Ibrahim, was once hospitalised for weeks following heavy beatings he suffered from DSS officials while trying to cover government function at the Government House Banquet Hall during the regime of former Governor Godswill Akpabio.