Raymond Ozoji, Awka
It was a display of shame and derision at Aroma junction Awka as an errant police traffic warder named Mmaduekponam Martins with staff number 10142 brutally manhandled a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria on duty, beating the journalist to a pulp.
The NAN correspondent who was taking a shot of another police female traffic warder fighting with a shuttle driver in his vehicle, was spotted by officer Mmaduekponam who pounced on him, tore his T-shirt and unleashed punches on his face while eye-witnesses expressed shock at the level of rascality displayed by the police officers.
The ugly incident which occurred at the weekend left the NAN correspondent and the driver of UNIZIK shuttle with bruises and injuries on their faces allegedly inflicted on them by the fierce looking police officers.
Narrating his ordeal in the hands of the police officer who descended on him like a hungry lion, the NAN correspondent stated that he was filing a report at a near-by Cyber Cafe when he spotted a police officer in a duel with a shuttle driver in his vehicle and proceeded to take photographs of the incident, when his assailant abandoned his duty-post and engaged him in a physical combat threatening him to relinquish his camera which he protected from the terror of the police officer.
The journalist said that officer Mmaduekponam had threatened to kill him if he refused to release his camera because he took photographs of his colleague while fighting with the shuttle driver.
The UNIZIK shuttle driver whose father is also a senior police officer at Ajali Division Orumba-North alleged that Obi Amaka whose staff number is 14118 invaded his vehicle in a bid to remove his ignition key over his inability to ‘roger’ her.
He said it was not the first time she insisted that he would ‘settle’ her, saying that it had become the stock-in-trade of the officer and her colleague to terrorise and intimidate bus drivers, tricycle operators and a host of others operating within Aroma axis into giving them money without reason.
It therefore took the timely intervention of the Nigeria Union of Journalists Anambra State Council to protect the NAN correspondent and the shuttle driver from further assault even though another police officer named Mbele Nicodemus bearing AK47 rifle threatened to shoot another journalist in the midst of the pandemonium.
When journalists tried to reach the Police Public Relations Officer of the Anambra state police command Princess Nkiru Nwode to report the situation, her mobile phone was switched off. While further attempts were made to report the matter to the Divisional Police Officer of the B Division Awka where the errant traffic warders emanated from, efforts of the NUJ delegation to the station were also frustrated.
Meanwhile, the state commissioner of police Garba Baba Musa has referred the matter to the Area Command of the Nigeria Police in Awka for appropriate action to be taken to broker peace between journalists and the police in Anambra state.