Thugs overpower police, attack senators, journalists

Posted by Garba Ahmed, Kaduna | 30 July 2017 | 2,012 times

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•One of the thugs apprehended by the police during the attack on NUJ Kaduna. Photo: Garba Ahmed.

The Press Centre of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Kaduna Council, on Sunday came under attack by heavily armed political thugs believed to be supporters of a faction of the All Peoples Congress (APC) in the state.

The thugs overpowered the men of the Nigeria Police who were stationed to man the entrance gate to the NUJ Press centre, where Senators Shehu Sani (APC Kaduna Central) and Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC Kaduna North) were addressing a press conference.

The thugs wielding dangerous weapons matcheted Lawal Muhammed, a camera man of Liberty Television, Kaduna.

Prominent among those in attendance were Senator Shehu Sani, who represents Kaduna Central Senatorial District; Honourable Musa Mohammed Soba, who represents Soba Federal Constituency; the Chairman of Liberty Television, Ahmed Tijjani Ramalan; Yaro Makama; Ambassador Sule Bubba, Honourable Muhammed Usman, representing Kudan/Makarfi Federal Constituency; and Honourable Isah Ashiru.

The thugs, believed to be sponsored by rival politicians, stormed the press centre in their hundreds around 11:47 a.m.

Mr. Mohammed, camera man with Liberty Television, who sustained injury on his head, was rushed to a nearby hospital, his camera damaged. Other recording devices and GSM handsets of many journalists and politicians, who escaped through the fence, were missing.

Some journalists who witnessed the incident told our reporter that, about 100 thugs wielding dangerous weapons stormed the NUJ Secretariat about 30 minutes into the press conference being addressed by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi.

An eyewitness said: “Senator Shehu Sani scaled through the fence when the thugs blocked the main gate of the secretariat.

“Many of the journalists who attended the press conference abandoned cameras and other recording devices on the table, scampered for safety, and escaped through the fence. The APC legislators were taken to a safe corner of the building and later rescued by some thugs loyal to them.”

Another journalist who witnessed the show of shame said: “The thugs defied police tear gas and continued with their attack. Normalcy was however restored when the Police Commissioner and the DPO of Gabasawa Police Station arrived the scene. One of our colleagues’ vehicle was damaged by the thugs.

“I have never seen something like this before. The whole thing is just like a movie scene.” Agyole Abbeh, the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, while addressing journalists at the scene, promised to take action. He vowed to do everything possible to see that those responsible for the attack are arrested and brought to book.

Earlier, Senator Hunkuyi, who spoke on behalf of the lawmakers, lamented that they were sidelined from the party’s delegates election held in the state on Saturday. He remarked that as stakeholders they ought to be contacted and an enabling environment provided for them to participate “but it was not so.”

“The list of the delegates was not known to us. The list was fake. So we wrote two petitions to the National Secretariat and zonal to buttress our grievances. We hope the National body would look into our complaints and fixed another date,” Hunkuyi said.

Addressing journalists earlier on Sunday at the party’s secretariat, the State APC Publicity Secretary, Salisu Tanko Wusono, had said that the delegates election was free and fair.  Wusono said that five officials from the National Secretariat of APC came to supervise the election, insisting: “We acted within the party’s guidelines as no party member was sidelined.”

El-Rufai condemns attack

Reacting to the violent disruption of the press conference by the aggrieved APC chieftains, Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai said this afternoon that nobody would be allowed to stifle freedom of expression. In a message to the Kaduna State Council of NUJ, the Governor condemned the action by the hoodlums. He expressed sympathy with the NUJ and the persons that were harassed by the hoodlums.

El-Rufai directed that the security agencies should investigate and take necessary action against the hoodlums. He also directed security agencies to beef up security at the NUJ Secretariat to protect journalists carrying out their duties.

A statement signed by Samuel Aruwan, spokesman to the Governor, said: “The media must not be hindered from carrying out their constitutional and professional obligations.

“The Government of Kaduna State upholds the principles of free speech and respects the freedom of expression.

“Politics should not be a desperate game. And desperation should not be visited on journalists or any citizen.”

Aruwan added that the Government of Kaduna State will not tolerate any attempt to muzzle the press and innocent citizens from exercising their constitutional rights.

Source: News Express

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