By James, Michael Igiri
An Ebonyi state-based journalist, Charles Ottu, was at the weekend assaulted in Abakaliki, the state capital, over a controversial Facebook post.
Otu, who is the publisher of Conscience, a local newspaper had used his newspaper and Facebook to, “expose the failures of a state government in many sectors and critically analyse its programmes and projects.”
Narrating his ordeal at the hands of his bullies, Mr Otu explained that he was asked by the group to write a statement that he was rescued by the Ekubaraoha Youth Assembly from a mob that was attacking me.
“The thugs who accosted me at the Vanco Junction arrived in a 16-seater Toyota bus with the inscription of Ekubaraoha Youth Assembly.
“They accused me of being a threat to a state government and threatened to silence me unless I signed a written undertaking never to write anything against the state government.
I collapsed at the police station having lost consciousness due to the severe beating they gave me but I was revived at the emergency ward of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki,” Otu said.
A source, who pleaded anonymity, said: “Otu was accused of putting up 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 the day he was sworn in. They said the post had gone viral and made government officials uncomfortable.”
Jude Madu, spokesman of the Ebonyi State police command, confirmed the attack and revealed that another journalist was also assaulted. He gave the identity of the other reporter as Samuel Nweze, publisher of the People’s Leader newspaper.
Madu said that the police have launched investigation to unravel the motive behind the attacks.
“The report of the attacks on two journalists are before the police and we have launched investigations to unravel the motive behind the attacks and identities of those involved”, He said.
Reacting to the development, the Technical Assistant to Ebonyi State Governor on Media, Lawrence Egede, stated that it was wrong for any journalists to be intimidated or beaten up in the course of his duty and therefore called on youths to desist from indulging in any acts of violence in the state.
He assured that government would do everything possible to track down the perpetrators of the dastardly act, described as barbaric and against the peaceful disposition of the state government, which has negotiated peace across the state.
Egede, who was Secretary Ohaneze Ndigbo in Ebonyi, explained that it would be very unacceptable for opposition elements to brew crisis with allegations against persons or institution without any evidence.
Meanwhile, the state governor, David Umahi, yesterday said those behind the alleged attack on the journalists should be arrested and prosecuted. While condemning the attack, Umahi reaffirmed his government’s position in ensuring security of lives and property in Ebonyi State.