June 15, 2024

June 15, 2024

Policemen Attack Journalist Covering Sit-At-Home In Southeast Nigeria

Some police officers have allegedly attacked a BBC journalist who was covering the suspended sit-at-home order at Cemetery Market, Aba, Abia State.


The incident happened on Wednesday.


The journalist, who could not be identified, was giving a live update during the BBC Igbo Facebook broadcast, when the police operatives who were on routine patrol attacked him.


The officers accused the journalist of filming them.


The reporter, in the live broadcast, was providing updates on the sit-at-home order in the South-east, as well as the court proceedings of Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).


In a video clip posted on Facebook by the BBC Igbo shortly after the incident, heavily armed police officers could be seen questioning the journalist.


“Hey! Hey!! Stop there!!! Why are you videoing us?” one of the police officers angrily spoke to the journalist.


“I am not videoing you people. This is BBC live,” the journalist responded.


“Open am well!” the officer ordered in Pidgin English, referring to his camera.


“Hold-am,” a voice, believed to be that of another officer, said, implying the journalist should be held.


The officers told the reporter that he could be a spy pretending to be a journalist.


“Na lie. I am a journalist,” the BBC journalist insisted.


The ensuing commotion in the clip and the abrupt stoppage of the broadcast suggested the journalist may have been manhandled by the officers.


He was later arrested.


“The police officers are disturbing our reporter now in Aba,” said the programme anchor in the BBC studio.


A few minutes later, the anchor, a female, announced that the operatives had released the reporter.


“Our reporter’s two GSM phones were smashed today in Aba despite telling them that he is a BBC journalist,” she said.


“They have released him now,” the anchor announced.


When contacted, the police spokesperson in Abia State, Geoffrey Ogbonna, denied that the officers brutalised the journalist.


He, however, confirmed that the BBC journalist was arrested, but later released.


“Somebody like that was arrested, but the issue of brutalisation, I don’t think there was anything like that. He was arrested and then introduced himself and he was allowed to go,” Mr Ogbonna said.


The five states in the South-east have been observing a sit-at-home order declared by IPOB.


The sit-at-home order continued on Wednesday in the region, following the resumption of Mr Kanu’s trial at the Federal High Court, Abuja.


Security has deteriorated in the region in recent times, with gunmen frequently attacking security agencies and government facilities.


The Nigerian government has accused IPOB of being responsible for the deadly attacks. But the group has repeatedly denied its involvement in the attacks.


The separatist group is leading the agitation for an independent state of Biafra to be carved out from the South-east and some parts of the South-south.


Mr Kanu, leader of the group, appeared in court on Wednesday for the continuation of his trial.


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