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Saturday, 3 June 2017

How A Journalist Was Beaten To Stupor Inside Ebonyi Govt House Over Facebook Post (Photos)

  
Charles Otu, an Ebonyi-based reporter was allegedly assaulted inside government house, Abakaliki, capital of the state, over a controversial Facebook post. Otu is said to be a publisher of Conscience, a local newspaper, and also a correspondent of Guardian Newspaper.
 
According to a statement on the attack which happened on Friday, Otu has used his newspaper and Facebook as avenues to “expose the failures of the Ebonyi state government in many sectors and update activities of the government and to critically analyse and x-ray its programmes and projects”.
 
Those who attacked the journalist were said to be working for David Umahi, governor of the state. Emma Anya, spokesman of the governor, could not be reached for comment, as his telephone line was out of reach. 
The statement released by a source familiar with the incident gave a blow-by-blow account of the attack.
 
“On the 2nd of June 2017, Charles Otu went to a newspaper stand at the popular Vanco junction, Abakaliki to see some vendors. While there, a bus branded with the name ‘Akubaroha Youth Assembly’ – a youth organisation initiated by the governor allegedly serving as his strong arm – stopped in front of the news stand and thugs carrying guns jumped out and kidnapped him, but not after he had been beating up in the presence of people as he was struggling to escape,” the statement read.
 
“He was taken to the Ebonyi state government house, Abakaliki where he was forced out of the vehicle and made to lie on the ground. Workers who were leaving their offices as it was already past 4pm, on seeing the state he was in - began to scream and the thugs forced them out of the gate and locked up everywhere.

“They brought out machetes, rods and sticks and proceeded to beat him up – over twenty of them jostling and shoving to get their turn at him. They accused him of making a post on Facebook two days earlier x-raying the activities of the state government and matching the failure of the government to the inaugural speech made by Governor, Engr. David Umahi the day he was sworn in. The said post had gone very viral and had given the state governor some serious headache as never in the past had anyone ever given such an analysis against the government.

“Present with the thugs were some senior special advisers to the governor. While the journalist was pleading for his life, they informed him that the instruction was to kill him.”
 
The statement said someone reached out to a top government official who contacted the police authorities in the state.
 
It was learnt that the signal was sent to the commissioner of police in Ebonyi. At the time, calls were already coming from all parts of the country, including from the security,” the statement read.
 
“At the time he was being manhandled and assaulted at the Ebonyi state government house, the news was everywhere on social media. 
 
Knowing that they’d been discovered, the thugs got calls from those that sent them not to kill Mr Charles Otu but to get him to write an undertaking that he was going to move away from Ebonyi and that he would never report nor write anything against the state government.
 
“One of the thugs suggested that since the abduction of had leaked that it was best to take him to the police and he would sign the undertaking while at the police station.

“They bundled him into their vehicle and ordered the journalist not to raise his head and not to mention any of their names. At the Kpirikpiri Police Station, they informed the police that he saw some people beating the young man up and rescued him. They were working in connivance with the police, so while they were drafting their undertaking, the police asked him to write his statement, but he was too weak to do so.

“While this was ongoing, friends and well-wishers gathered at the police station, demanding his rescue – it was then that the dying journalist vomited blood and water, then passed out.

“Friends who were at the police station snatched him from the police, and put him in a car to be taking to the hospital but the thugs blocked the vehicle, while the police watched without doing anything. It took a great effort before the vehicle carrying the unconscious journalist was able to escape and he was rushed to the emergency unit of the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki.”
 
Source: The Cable

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