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Reporter Brutalised on the Orders of Oil Company’s Manager

 

Mr. Luka Binniyat, Energy Reporter with the Lagos-based independent daily, Vanguard newspaper was, on August 20, 2008, at about 2:50pm local time, beaten and brutalized with gun butts by security personnel attached to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Abuja on the orders of Dr. Levi Ajounoma, its Corporate Affairs Group General Manager (GGM). He sustained injuries including spraining his left elbow.

 

Binniyat was at the NNPC office to cover the visit of the UK Secretary for Energy; Rt. Hon. Malcom Wicks to the NNPC.

 

Before ordering the guards to beat up Binniyat, Dr. Ajounoma personally assaulted and brutalized Binniyat while he was presenting his Identity Card to show he was on official assignment. Ajuonuma snatched the card, flung it away and shouted:  “Luka! I don’t want to see you here again. Leave this place now.” Then he turned to the security men, still shouting: “Look! Security! take this man away”, shuffling the reporter about. 

 

Mr. Luka Binniyat had on 16 August 2008, at a Press Conference marking the one year in office of present Group Managing Director (GMD) of the NNPC, Engr. Abubakar Yar’Adua asked him a question on accountability and transparency in the manner the corporation had been managed over time.

 

Unknown to the reporter the questions had irked Ajuonuma who is reported to have vowed to deal with the reporter for daring to ask such a questions and any journalist “working against” the corporation these days will never be allowed into Corporate Headquarters of the NNPC as long as he is in charge of the media. 

 

Levi ignored the of pleas by Alhaji Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, Director of Special Project of the NNPC for Dr. Ajuonuma to let the journalist cover the event but ordered the Security personnel made up of Mobile Policemen  and plain clothed detectives to chase the reporter away

 

Narrating his ordeal, Binniyat said: “After Levi and Barkindo took the lift downstairs”, narrated Binniyat,  “the overzealous security men stopped me from making any call to my Editors”, he said. “When I asked why, they swooped on me with some of them hitting me with their gun butts, while the rest pummelled me into the lift and took me down the lobby, 11th floors below.

 

“Dr. Levi again was there, and asked them to throw me out immediately, an order they carried out swiftly.

 

“By the time I was out of the NNPC building, I have pains around my ribs and a sprained left elbow, from the twisting it received.

 

“I strongly believe that there is something very uncanny and sinister that the NNPC is desperately trying to conceal by intimidating those who dare to ask”.

 

Dr. Levi Ajuonuma is incidentally a journalist.

 

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