The Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Delta State council, has condemned in the strongest term the unwarranted attack on its Chairman, Comrade Michael Ikeogwu and a Daily Post reporter, Mr. Matthew Omonigho by members of the State Taskforce on Environmental Sanitation on Wednesday, April 1st, 2020.
The council, in a statement by the Assistant Secretary, Comrade Celestine Afokoba, said Ikeogwu had led a team of journalists to monitor the level of compliance with the stay-at-home directive of the Delta state government when they were attacked and assaulted by the overzealous members of the task force who also destroyed their Nikon D3100 photo camera at Otiotio Street in Uvwie Local Government Area.
Describing the attack as barbaric, wicked, primitive and ludicrous, the statement said the decision of the taskforce led by one Kingsley Iweka to come out under the guise of carrying out environmental sanitation duties when they were supposed to comply with the social distancing rule was a great disservice to the state government’s efforts to curtail the spread of the ravaging corona virus pandemic to the state.
The statement said: “It is expedient to note that in the directive issued by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, environmental sanitation officials were not among those listed to carry out their duties during the stay-at-home period.
“It is therefore very appalling and totally unacceptable to see members of the task force numbering over 20 unleashing hostility on Ikeogwu and Omonigho because they sought to know why people were being gathered to carry out environmental sanitation when they were expected to comply with the social distancing rule and stay-at-home order.
The statement added that rather than the task force to retrace their step and render unreserved apology to NUJ Chairman and members of the pen profession for the uncivilized behaviour, they had resorted to blackmail Comrade Ikeogwu with a spurious and fabricated story in the social media.
“We call for the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the team of the task force that attacked the number one journalist in Delta State and another of its colleague to forestall future attacks on media workers on legitimate duties.”
“We also wish to call on the Governor of Delta State, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, to caution some of his media aides who had also gone to the social media to comment on issues they were not knowledgeable about with special reference to Fred Latimore who did not bother to call the NUJ Chairman but went ahead to put up a weak defence for the rampaging Environmental Task Force.”
“We wish to state unequivocally, that the NUJ Delta State Council will not succumb to any form of intimidation in discharging its constitutional responsibility, as we call on our members to be law abiding and also observe the social distancing order while monitoring the exercise.”
The council however, assured that some unruly government officials will not distort the mutual understanding between the union and the state government.