Officials of the Delta State Task Force on Environment on Wednesday attacked the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State council, Mr Michael Ikeogwu.
Also attacked was the correspondent of the Daily Post, Mathew Omonigho, who reportedly had his Nikon D3100 camera destroyed.
The duo were in Otiotio Street, Uvwie Local Government Area of the state to monitor the stay-at-home order by the government as a measure taken to curtail the spread COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
Narrating his ordeal, Ikeogwu said that he had approached the environmental officials on why they should force residents to do sanitation despite the government order.
According to him, he and his fellow journalist were held for over 45 minutes by the officials said to have been led by Mr Kingsley Iweka.
“It took the swift intervention of the Chairman of the Environment Task Force, Mr Syvelster Oromoni, to free us from them through phone call.
“I wondered what will become of the ordinary man in the society if government officials could assault journalists in this manner even after identifying ourselves.
“Today is not environmental sanitation. Why should a task force constituted for environmental sanitation come out on a day that people are asked to stay at home to enforce environmental sanitation?
“The action further endangers the lives of the people as it contravenes the social distance directive of the governor.
“I wish to call on the state governor to look into this matter because many people will fall victim of this brutality before the end of the lockdown order.
“It was the residents of the area who called us to come and see what was happening, how they were being forced to come and do environmental sanitation. However, I thank God it didn’t go beyond that even as I go to treat myself because I was attacked.
“I am disappointed with the attitude of the leader of the team, who, after I had introduced myself, ordered his boys to attack me and my colleague,” he said.
Ikeogwu, however, urged the state government to call the officials to order, noting that many journalists might become victims before the expiration of the two weeks lockdown of the state.
Reacting, Oromoni said that the task force gave the order that the people should come out and clean their environment.
Oromoni, however, pleaded that “the matter should end there.”
In a related development, operatives of the Nigeria Police, Warri Area Command, on Wednesday, arrested a number of persons across Warri and environs for violating the lockdown and stay-at-home order.
Warri Area Commander, Mohammed Garba, while addressing journalists after a surveillance with his convoy, said the stay-at-home compliance was 99.9 per cent.
“Today being the first day, it is normal. We recorded 99.9 per cent compliance.
We have to continue patrolling as we have done at least for the 14 days.
“People have been complaining but they have to comply. It is a government directive. So, I’m appealing to them to exercise patience. Fourteen days is just like 14 hours before you know it, it is over.
“That is what we are trying to make them see, they should please comply with the Federal Government and the state government’s directives.
“We made some arrest for violation, though some people were saying that they were coming from other states, but that notwithstanding, we made the arrests.”