The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Rivers State, has condemned the Rivers State Police Command for manhandling and holding two journalists and their driver hostage.
The NUJ, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt yesterday and signed by its chairman and secretary, Omoni Ayo-Tamuno and Soibi Max-Alalibo, said that the journalists, Ofonime Okon and Ifeanyi Obinna of Silverbird Television and Rhythm FM, Port Harcourt respectively were covering the protest by students of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT).
The statement revealed that the police had held the journalists hostage, accusing them of recording the police who were also at the scene of the protest.
According to the union, the police, who had held them hostage for over an hour, had gone as far as forcing the cameraman to delete the shots of the protest from the memory card.
The union, therefore, called on the state commissioner for Police, to produce the policemen who carried out the heinous crime against the journalists and ensure that they are brought to justice.
The statement read in part, “The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Rivers State Council condemns the manhandling and holding hostage of her colleagues, a cameraman and reporter, as well as their driver, while on duty during last Monday’s University of Port Harcourt students’ protest.
“The police, stationed at Choba Junction, by Sammy Fast Food, held hostage the reporter, Ofonime Okon and Cameraman, Ifeanyi Obinna of Silverbird Television and Rhythm FM, Port Harcourt, as well as their driver, for over an hour. Within this period, they forced the cameraman to delete all his shots on the protest from the memory card.
“Their crime, according to the policemen was that they took shots of them (police) in their recording.
“Although the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Ahmed Mohammed expressed displeasure over the issue when contacted, we believe that mere personal verbal expression as was genuinely done by the PPRO is hardly enough to forestall a reoccurrence of the act, noting that such injustice meted out to journalists has become one too many.”