Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The Director of Abia Breaking News, an on-line Television platform in Umuahia, Abia State, Mr Ifeanyi Okali, has demanded open apology and payment for damaged equipment when police operatives invaded the station during a live programme.
During the invasion, the police were said to have whisked away a guest of the station on live programme.
Okali who strongly condemned the action of the police also expressed worry that law enforcement agents had become law breakers.
In a strongly worded statement, Okali called on the Police authorities to curtail the excesses of some overzealous personnel.
Below is a full text of the statement:
“We are worried by the invasion of our broadcast station in Umuahia by officers of the Nigerian Police, Umuahia Area command in Abia State.
“At about 2:40pm on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, the policemen invaded our station during a live programme to arrest our guest, one Mr. Udensi Bernard during a programme, Youth Rendezvous.
“The police claimed a senior brother of the guest, one Mr Uche Onwuka Udensi had written a petition against him over a family matter.
“Despite repeated plea by our staff to the officers to allow the programme come to an end before the guest could be arrested, they insisted on whisking him away while the live programme was on.
“We find this very provocative and indeed an act of overzealousness by the officers who obviously acted in clear contravention of rule of engagement.
“It clearly also negates the enhanced police-civil relations which the Commissioner of Police, CP Kene Onwuemeile has consistently campaigned for.
“When the Director of the media organisation who was in Aba for an assignment was informed of the development, he quickly reached out to the Commissioner of Police who immediately invited staff of ABN TV/Radio to properly brief him on what happened, officers on duty barricaded the door and harassed, intimidated and threatened to detain them.
“We also want to put on record, during the gestapo arrest, many of our broadcast equipment were fatally damaged, including a laptop, camera and microphones.
“We find this an attack on press freedom and most especially open violation of human right to expression, having taken place during a live broadcast where critical issues about youth development were being discussed.
“We demand an open apology from the Abia State Command of the Nigerian Police over this unprovoked attack in our studio.
“It has equally left us with huge financial losses following the damage of our equipment. We are also calling for the replacement of the affected tools.
“From all indications, the officers were not properly schooled on best approaches to relate with the civil populace in a democratic environment where the media plays a key role to enhance their relations with the generality of the society.”