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NUJ condemns Journalists' attack in Ebonyi Assembly complex.

By Mbam Ogodo, Abakaliki
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Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), has condemned in its entirety the attack on journalists covering the ongoing screening of Commissioner nominees in Ebonyi state House of Assembly by political thugs numbering over 40 with dangerous weapons.

The thugs who were led by the member representing Afikpo South West constituency in the Assembly, Nkemka Onuma descended on the journalists and inflicted injuries on three of them; Ogochukwu Anioke of the Nation newspaper, Samson Nwafor of the Pilot Newspaper and a pregnant journalist, Mrs. Grace Egbo of the Tribune Newspaper who was hit on her stomach and face.

Onuma during the melee, threatened to prevent journalists from covering the state Assembly, describing them as touts.

After attacking the Journalists, the thugs also held one of them, Anioke hostage inside the Assembly premises by ordering the gateman to lock the gate as he made to drive out of the Assembly complex in Nkaliki road Abakaliki.

It took the intervention of the Chairman of NUJ, Comrade Tony Nwizi to prevent further attack on the journalists and vandalization of their vehicles by forcefully opening the entrance gate which aided their escape.

The incident happened after the screening of one of the nominees which was fraught with some irregularities as the speaker of the House, Francis Nwifuru noticed that the year of his graduation from Primary School did not correspond with the year he started secondary school on his documents.

Nwifuru had asked him to explain how he started secondary school a year before the year he graduated from primary school as stated in his result but he could not give any reasonable answer to the query.

Reacting to the attack on the journalists, National President of NUJ, Comrade Chris Isiguzo who condemned the action of Onuma and the thugs, demanded for apology on their action.

He also ordered that the medical bills of the victims should be taken care of by the lawmaker.

“I am yet to get the full details of what really happened in Ebonyi state House of Assembly but if what we read is anything to go by, it is shocking and totally unbecoming for an Honourable member of a House of Assembly to have abandoned his legislative duty to begin to unleash mayhem on innocent journalists in Ebonyi state.

“It is totally unacceptable to us and we demand that Ebonyi state House of Assembly should not just apologized to those people that were manhandled, they should also make sure that they are taken care of in the hospital because I learnt that one or two of those people is already in the hospital. So, they should take care of their bills in the hospital and assure us of their safety in that House of Assembly.

“There is no way that the legislature which is of course part of the ingredients of democracy in governance will still be the one to cause trouble or problem to the safety of journalists in Ebonyi state. so, the attack is totally unacceptable and we think in the next couple of hours, the House of Assembly should do the needful”.

On the threat to prevent journalists from covering activities of the Assembly, Isiguzo said “the lawmaker in question does not have powers to stop journalists from covering the Assembly as he threatened. It is a public place and it does not belong to that particular lawmaker or the Speaker, it is a public institution and they don’t have right or such powers to bar any journalist from covering the state House of Assembly, it will never happen. If they try it, we will take the next line of action. They can’t even try it, the lawmaker was only trying to grandstand”.