The Nigerian Army has expressed regrets over an attack on some journalists by a detachment of military personnel in Umuahia on Tuesday morning.
In a telephone interview, the spokesman for the 14 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Ohafia, Maj. Oyegoke Gbadamosi, said he was shocked to hear that military personnel invaded the secretariat of NUJ and attacked journalists.
Gbadamosi, said he was shocked by the information and promised to look into the incident.
Some members of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) had protested that a detachment of military operatives, suspected to be members of ‘Operation Python Dance’ from 14 Brigade, Ohafia in Abia on Tuesday invaded the secretariat.
They said some soldiers, who were on a ‘show of force,’ halted their convoy, jumped out of their trucks and headed for the NUJ office at No. 1 Aba Road, Umuahia.
They stated that no fewer than 20 military personnel invaded the NUJ hall, manhandled two journalists and destroyed their working tools.
One of the alleged victims, Bonny Okoro, who is the state correspondent of The Oracle Today, said that the operatives, who were driving in a convoy toward Bende Road, via Aba Road, attracted the attention of members of the public.
Okoro said that he and other journalists at the press centre gathered at the windows and balcony of the two-storey building, to catch a glimpse of the troops, who were in a convoy of trucks.
“While I was peeping through the window, I noticed that two trucks suddenly stopped around the Tower, while no fewer than 20 armed men jumped out and headed for our office.
“Before we knew what was happening, they had invaded the NUJ hall, accosted me and demanded to have my cell phone.
“I told them that I did not have my handset on me. One of them gave me a slap, seized my bag, from where he took out my Samsung tablet and smashed it on the ground.
“Another one also stamped his booth on the screen, while another hit the nuzzle of his rifle on it, smashing it beyond repairs,” Okoro, who is a National Trustee of NUJ, said.
The second person and Correspondent of Daily Times, Mr Sunny Nwakanma, said his handset was also destroyed by the attackers.
He said the military personnel accosted him as he retreated from the blacony into the hall, “grabbed my handset and smashed it”.
The alleged attack generated tension in the vicinity as traders in the neighbourhood, passersby and bystanders ran for their safety.
The chairman of the state council of NUJ, Mr John Emejor, described the attack as “a desecration of the hallowed chambers of journalists in the state”.
Emejor said “the attack was unprovoked.
“It is unheard of that journalists who are rendering selfless service to humanity and the nation, including the military, should be a target for military attack.”