BY ABUCHI ONWUMELU
The Catholic bishop of Awka Diocese, His Lordship Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, has condemned the alleged attack on the news crew of the Anambra Broadcasting Service, ABS, yesterday by protesting Awkuzu youths, even as he sent words of encouragement to the management and staff of the state’s owned station.
Bishop Ezeokafor who reacted immediately the news of the ugly incident filtered in, wondered what could make anyone in their right senses to descend on journalists, who, he said, were carrying out their onerous task of serving the general public.
‘Why attack these harmless and hapless individuals? These people are out there hunting for news. Why lynch them? Why go after their station’s official vehicle even to the point of vandalizing it?,’ Bishop Ezeokafor queried.
The Catholic prelate who is known for his outspokenness and unbiased judgement enjoined the community leaders of Awkuzu to rein in their youths, noting that the media practitioners in the state and Nigeria in general deserved to be encouraged, supported, protected and cared for by all and sundry.
The charismatic Cleric expressed sadness over the incident, describing it as uncalled for and absurd, adding that without the media, the world would had been in darkness.
Fides gathered that the news crew of the Anambra Broadcasting Service, ABS that covered yesterday’s protest by youths in Awkuzu, were lynched and the station’s official bus vandalized.
According to reports, the Camera Man, Nicolas Johnson, was physically assaulted and his eight thousand naira cash stolen by the violent protesters, just as the reporter Chibuzo Okoye and driver Jossy Ugochukwu sustained injuries, owing to the mob attack.
Report had it that youths in Awkuzu took to the streets, in protest for the death of one of their own, Chibuike, who they alleged was over- run by Police vehicle pursuing him.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Haruna Mohammed said the deceased died while on speed sighted the Police Patrol team attached to Oyi Division along Nkwo -Awkuzu road, and in a bid to evade arrest following restriction on operation of motorcycles after 7pm by the Anambra State Government, made a sudden U-turn on the road and collided with a tricycle.
The Police Image Maker said the victim was rushed to Chira Hospital Awkuzu for treatment but was confirmed dead by the medical doctor.
‘Following the incident, youths in their hundreds moved to attack the Police Station but were peacefully dispersed with the intervention of community leaders and other well meaning individuals led by the Hon.Commissioner for Transport,Honourable Uchenna Okafor.
‘However, today 12/9/2018,the youths mobilized again, went on rampage and blocked the Enugu -Onitsha Federal Highway. The youths thereby caused serious traffic congestion in the area whilst burning tyres also.
‘They thereafter proceeded to the Police Station and started vandalizing the exhibit vehicles and motorcycles parked at the premises but were prevented by reinforced Police personnel who excercised maximum restraint and used minimum force to disperse the rampaging youths. The situation has been brought under control and five suspects were arrested by the Police while investigation is ongoing.
‘Furthermore, it is worthy to note that since the restriction on operation of motorcycles after 7pm and ban on motorcycles in certain areas by the Anambra State Government, Crime and criminality have drastically reduced in the State, and the Police is bent on enforcing that order.
‘The Command implores members of the Public to go about their lawful businesses and refrain from taking laws into their hands. Finally, the Commissioner of Police enjoins parents and guardians to restrain their children and wards from participating in unlawful acts such as the attack on a Police station, please,’ the police spokesperson said.