You're Part of Nigeria's Problem — Anambra Civil Defence Officials Beat Up Anambra Journalists After Attending APGA Rally

Dec 2, 2023 - 14:14
Dec 2, 2023 - 15:25

By Joseph Udeze

In a shocking incident that unfolded on Saturday in Awka, the capital of Anambra state, over 10 officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) officials launched a brutal attack on journalist Izunna Okafor, accusing the media of being part of Nigeria's problems.

It was gathered that the journalist was in the same bus with the Civil Defence officials, who were conveyed together with him from Awka to the venue of the Anambra South Rally of the Soludo Ambassadors, which held at Nnewi; while the same bus (provided by the organizers of the event) also conveyed them back to Awka.

Recounting the harrowing experience, the journalist who said the officials had earlier complained of hunger and frustration on their way back from the rally, said the trouble started when he wanted to alight at the UNIZIK Junction, Awka, from the bus that was conveying them. He said after he severally informed and reminded the driver that he would alight at the UNIZIK Junction, which he ignored on the instruction of the Civil Defence officers, who insisted that everybody must remain in the bus and follow them to the very last bus stop where they themselves would alight. He said it was until he spoke with a loud voice before some other civil defence officials and some attendants of the rally in the same bus then told the driver to stop for him to alight.

According to him, what followed was an appalling display of aggression.

Narrating further, he said when he alighted, he could not see his second phone which fell out inside the bus when the driver was on a high-speed. However, according to him, as he was informing them that his phone fell off inside the bus and that he would want to pick it, the aggressive civil defence officers ordered the driver to zoom off moving without listening to him.

He said as he was stretching his hand to request for the phone from the person who volunteered to pick it for him, one of the Civil Defence officials attached to the Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA) callously ordered the driver to speed off, and then furiously jammed the door of the bus, leaving him with severe hand injuries caused by the forceful and unexpected locking of the bus door.

Okafor, who was in severe pains said he had no other option but to board another commercial transport to go to the place where the Civil Defence officers said would be the last bus stop.

According to him, when he got there, as he sought an explanation from the particular officer for his action, the situation escalated further and aggravated to a chaos as the officer began questioning him back on what gave him the boldness to ask him such question as a uniformed and armed man. He said while the Civil Defence officer began to raise his voice at him, he also conked his gun, while his colleagues, numbering about 11, rushed out and irrationally descended on him, physically assaulting him, kicking and menacingly hitting him with gun heads.

Okafor said some of the Civil Defence officers also conked their guns and even threatened to shoot him while beating him up, but for the pleas of some other people who were there witnessing what was happening. He said the Civil Defence officers also accused Nigeria journalists of being major part of Nigeria's problem, while they themselves stand and suffer under the sun to protect the country and her citizens.

According to the journalist, it took the intervention of Mr. Ossy Onuko, the Managing Director of the Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA) to quell the violence.

Despite Okafor eventually retrieving his phone and receiving an apology from the Mr. Onuko, the Civil Defence officers continued threatening him, vowing to track him and further deal with him. He said the officers further boasted that no one could stop them from unleashing their mayhem on the him as anyone who would attempts to do so should first care for their welfare before advising them.

The journalist, left with injuries, is currently seeking medical attention as at the time he recounted his ordeal to our correspondent.

Okafor, who said he could identify the officers involved in attacking him, added that he had recently reported the incident to the Public Relations Officer of the Anambra State Command of the Nigerian civil defence corps,  Edwin Okadigbo, who promised to look into the matter by next week.

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Chidi Igwe I was born in Nigeria and trained in Canada. With a Master of Arts in linguistics from the University of Regina, and PhD from Dalhousie University, I am currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Regina. I have taught French language and linguistics in various institutions, including the French Language Centre, Awka and Dalhousie University, Halifax. I am the author of Taking Back Nigeria from 419, published in 2007, and many scholarly articles in reputable academic journals. I am a passionate servant of the people.