The Punch Newspaper Reporter in Ebonyi State, Mr Edward Nnachi, was, on Thursday, attacked by a man in his late 30s, suspected to be personnel of the Ebonyi State Neighbourhood Watch, on his way home, from the Government House Abakaliki, the state capital.
According to report, Mr Nnachi, had after his normal daily news gathering expedition, went into the Government House, for further journalistic enquiries, before he was accosted from the place by a man, who claimed to be working for the State Government Neighbourhood Watch.
The suspect trailed him and his colleague, The Daily Times Reporter, Mr Charles Onyekwere, who walked in company of him, upto the popular Udensi Roundabout, where they were to board a tricycle (Keke), home.
On entering into the Keke, the suspect blocked the their way and ordered that The Punch Reporter should alight from the tricycle, follow him, or faced his anger.
Nnachi, had asked the suspect to identify himself and requested to know why he should alight from the tricycle and who sent him, but he declined to respond to either of these inquiries.
The fisticuffs, which started about 6.30pm on Thursday, lasted till 7.30pm, when the suspect eventually alleged that he was directed by the Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Mr Stanley Emegha, to bring the Punchman to his office in Government House.
It was at that point that the Reporter accepted to follow him to the Government House, but had put a call across to the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Loveth Odah.
As the fisticuffs heightened, the suspect started forcing the Reporter to follow to Government House, and intermittently, made calls, saying, “I am with him now. We are at Udensi Roundabout now. So, drive the open Hylux Van to Udensi Roundabout now.”
The suspect said, “Oga, you must follow me to Government House. I said you must follow me to Government House. You are not going anywhere, you must follow me to Government House
“Our Oga, the Commissioner for Internal Security, asked me to bring you and so, you must follow me to Government House now. So, don’t drag with me. Just follow me.
“You, your colleague and the Keke driver are not going anywhere until you follow me to Government House, now. So, you must follow me to Government House. Don’t let me deal with you here.”
It took the switf intervention of the PPRO, Odah, who had on, answering the Punchman’s call, dispatched men of the Nigerian Police Force, who arrived the scene of the incident, to arrest the situation.
Upon questioning by the Police operatives, the suspect, again, said he worked for the Ebonyi State Neighbourhood Watch and that he was under instruction to bring the Reporter to Government House, by the Internal Security Commissioner.
Asked to tender his ID card, he said he had lost it many months ago, and when asked to say his name, he declined.
It was at that point that the Police men moved to bungle him into their waiting operations van.
It took the intervention of the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Youth Mobilisation and President, Akubaraoha Youth Assembly, Mr Mark Onu, to leave the suspect off the Police hook.
The Punchman said he was not envisaging any attack or assualt from any quarters, because he was doing his job, without fear or favour in the state.
He thanked the Nigerian Police for their swift intervention into the matter.
“I am doing my work here in Ebonyi as requested by the ethics of journalism. And so, I am and wasn’t expecting any attack from anyone. Whatever I have reported in this state, I have my facts. And people should know that the media is the watchdog of the society,” Nnachi said.
The Punchman has been under severe pressure and scoldings from some functionaries of the State Government, over a report he did on Ezzagu community, in the Ishielu Local Government Area of the state, wherein he brought to public knowledge, the plights of the people of the area.
Efforts to reach the Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Mr Stanley Emegha, proved abortive as of the time of filing this report.
Calls put across to his mobile line were not answered and text messages sent to his phone, were yet to be responded to.
But sources qouted him to have said he wasn’t the one that sent the self-acclaimed Neighbourhood Watch man to harass or attack the Punchman.
He was also qouted to have said that he could never harass or attack any journalist within the state and beyond, because, according to him, journalists played important role in the society.