Akpokona Omafuaire, a reporter and photojournalist with Vanguard Newspapers was on October 23, 2020, assaulted by men of the Nigerian Police Force who also vandalized his car in Ekete, Udu area of Delta State.
Akpokona, who is also a lawyer, was on his way to an official assignment when he encountered the policemen, who assaulted him and damaged his car.
The policemen were among security agents deployed in the area to implement a 48-hour curfew imposed by the state governor, Senator IfeanyiOkowa, as part of measures to checkmate the rampaging activities of hoodlums, who hijacked the #EndSARS protests in parts of the state.
Narrating his ordeal, Akpokona said he was driving out of Ighodakpo street in Ekete when the policemen attacked him, telling him that no one was allowed near that area, he said he parked to show his identity card, but that as he got near them, they descended on him with cutlasses and guns, cutting and whipping him, cutting his car, shattering the lights.
He added: “They threatened to kill me and said that I should go and write whatever I desired.”Following the battery, the journalist rushed to a hospital for treatment.
Akpokoma later disclosed that “The Area Commander and Divisional Police Officer, DPO, along with a Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Governor [Okowa] came begging that they would repair the car. That is the decision reached.”
The Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in its reaction to the incident, called on the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mohammed Hafiz Inuwa, to immediately fish out the policemen involved in the molestation of the journalist and destruction of his car and appropriately sanction them.
The NUJ, in a statement by the chairman, Michael Ikeogwu and secretary, Patrick Ochei, said: “Journalists should not be objects of attacks by the police while carrying out their legitimate functions. The #EndSARS protesters are attacking journalists and media houses and at the same time, the police are assaulting us. Where do we run to?”
“We insist that the Police Commissioner must fish out Sergeant Godspower and other accomplices in this show of extreme power, otherwise we will sever ties with the police in the state,” the union stated.
It further cautioned the police to leave journalists out of their quagmire, affirming that “Nigeria is in this dire situation today because of police recklessness and brutality.”