Imo State Government yesterday debunked reports that a correspondent of Punch newspapers was brutalized by security operatives from the governor’s office for covering protests by women.
It said the man, Chidiebube Okeoma was questioned by the police for failure to properly identify himself after he was caught filming restricted areas of Government House long after the protesters had dispersed.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy Hon Declan Emelumba described Okeoma as an agent of the opposition who was in Government House for a sinister agenda and not for the practice of journalism.
Hon Emelumba also clarified that he never apologized to Okeoma for being interrogated by policeman, rather for claiming that he was beaten.
According to the Commissioner, when Okeoma called him on phone to report the incident, he promised to get back to him after investigations but that as a human being, he said that if his account was correct, he was sorry about it.
“From his skewed and jaundiced report,it is obvious that the man has an agenda which is to rubbish the efforts of the Government to restore peace in Imo State. He is obviously working for those stoking the security crisis”, he submitted.
He noted that although Okeoma claimed that he was accosted by policemen in OCDA vehicle, the headline read that he was brutalized by Uzodinma security operatives.
Hon Emelumba disclosed that investigations showed that the protesters had long gone when Okeoma was caught in restricted areas of Government House and that even when he was accosted he failed to produce his ID card.
He said it was curious that of all the journalists who covered the protesters, none was molested except the Punch correspondent.
He said it was also bewildering that someone who claims to be a journalist could neither produce his ID card nor comport himself in a dignified manner.
The truth is that he belongs to a breakaway faction of NUJ that is working for the opposition. He contrived and orchestrated the entire saga to taint the image of government. Nobody actually molested him”, the commissioner insisted.
Hon Emelumba also dismissed the allegation that the chief security officer in Government House offered Okeoma five thousand naira to treat himself of injuries from his encounter with the police.
He said the five thousand naira was for transport fare as requested by the journalist who has now turned it into a blackmail weapon.
While urging the public to ignore the report, the commissioner said the Government of imo state has a very high regard for journalists and would therefore not obstruct the performance of their lawful duties.