GOVERNMENT House policemen on Monday manhandled and arrested the Imo State correspondent of The Punch, Chidiebube Okeoma, for covering widows, who were protesting unpaid six months’ salary arrears.
The policemen, who came in the company of thugs from the Owerri Capital Development Authority, slapped and punched the journalist before bundling him into their waiting vehicle.
They also confiscated his mobile phones, power bank and threatened to shoot him if he dared say any word.
After beating the journalist, the visibly charged policemen drove him into the Governor’s Office in Owerri.
Okeoma said he was marched into the governor’s office from where he was taken to the office of the Chief Security Officer in charge of the state Government House, Shaba Adamu.
Okeoma, who further relayed his ordeal, explained that Adamu requested he (Okeoma) should be detained, but on a second thought, asked the journalist to explain what he was doing where the women were protesting.
The journalist said, “I was at the Government House Roundabout where I was covering the widows, who were protesting six months’ salary arrears owed them by the state government.
“While I was there, policemen wielding rifles with thugs from OCDA moved towards me menacingly after cocking their guns. One of them immediately slapped me while the other punched me on my left eye and instantly took all my gadgets.
“The policemen, who were harassing and intimidating me in the vehicle, marched me like a common criminal to the office of the governor where I was bundled into the office of the Government House Chief Security officer, Shaba Adamu.
“On sighting me, Adamu said that I ought to have been detained instead of bringing me to him. I told him that I wasn’t a criminal, but the Imo State correspondent of The PUNCH.
Okeoma added that the policeman later gave him N5,000 to treat himself, saying, “I collected it at gunpoint.”
According to the journalist, he was warned not to cover any protest again.
“I have since taken the money to the state police command, but the police authority didn’t take it. I feel pains internally owing to the beating from the policemen,” he said.
The journalist said he had since reported the development to the state Commissioner of Police, Abutu Yaro, adding that the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, had apologized to him.