The Human Rights Defenders (HURIDE), Ebonyi State Chapter has petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammad Adamu over a recent assault meted out on the Abuja correspondent of Blueprint Newspapers, Mr Paul Okah by suspected cultists.
It was gathered that the journalist was attacked on the 23rd day of August, 2020 in the Afikpo home of an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Pharmacist Anthony Ekoh Junior, during his visit in preparation for the burial of his late father and to celebrate the Afikpo New Yam festival.
The Chairman of HURIDE in Ebonyi State, Comrade Sam Oko Nweke (S.A.M) made this known Sunday while presenting a copy of the petition to newsmen in Abakaliki.
He decried the incessant attack and persecution of journalists in Ebonyi State, noting that this new attack is coming barely one month after a similar attack on the Ebonyi State correspondent of The Punch Newspaper, Mr Edward Nnachi.
“In the course of investigation following the complaint, HURIDE phoned the accused, Barr Mudi Erhenede, who admitted that he was actually in Tony Ekoh’s compound on the said date of attack, but totally denied knowledge of the attack on the journalist by his alleged boys,” Oko Nweke explained.
The HURIDE Chairman also narrated that the group had contacted Pharm. Tony Ekoh, in whose compound the act was perpetrated, who acknowledged the presence of both Paul Okah and Barr Mudi Erhenede and his followers in his compound on the fateful date, but said nobody notified him when Paul Okah was being attacked.
Oko Nweke, however, told journalists that eyewitnesses confirmed that one Emmanuel Ibiam Umeh (a.k.a Bakassi) first slapped Paul Okah before other boys joined him in manhandling the Blueprint journalist until he was rescued through the effort of a journalist with Unity FM Abakaliki, Mr Unya Effor, who provided his car for Paul Okah to escape to safety.
Oko Nweke finally assured Ebonyians, especially journalists, of HURIDE’S avowed preparedness to tackle injustice head-on and to advance peace in the state.
It could be recalled that Paul Okah has often been threatened by many Afikpo youths pledging loyalty to some politicians they claim the journalist criticises in the course of performing his constitutional duties.
The latest threat being that of Ibiam Junior (aka Terror), who threatened the life of the journalist in a comment on his post on Friday, September, 2020.