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BlackBox Nigeria Reporter Brutalized, Gadgets Destroyed In Akwa Ibom LG Polls

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BlackBox Nigeria Reporter Brutalized, Gadgets Destroyed In Akwa Ibom LG Polls

 

By, Uchechukwu Ugboaja

Mr. Emmanuel Gbolagade BlackBox Nigeria Photojournalist

Exclusive reports from Uyo, the Akwa-Ibom State capital by our correspondence reveal that the State independent electoral body also known as Akwa-Ibom State Independent Electoral Commissio (AKISIEC) is currently under seige as a photojournalist just escaped death by whiskers while taking shelter inside the AKISIEC office on Friday evening.

Inspite of the presence of over 250 heavily armed security men which included the Nigeria Police, DSS and the NSCDC the building located along Udo-Udoma Road, Uyo was eventually breached when different groups of Youths who were heard chanting slogans of APC and PDP clashed in front of the AKISIEC building.

Mr. Emmanuel Gbolagade BlackBox Nigeria Photojournalist

It became even more bloodier when Senator Albert Bassey Akpan attempted to visit the AKISIEC Chairman to find out why election materials was yet to leave for the various local government areas where voting is to take place but met the fury of the angry APC youths who claimed that they had unravelled a plot by the AKISIEC leadership and the PDP led Akwa-Ibom State government to rig the LG polls.

According to one of the angry youths who spoke to our correspondence claiming to be an APC state youth leader, he said “We will not accept the impunity and rigging that takes place in the past where election materials are diverted and results produced in their favour, so this time we will be vigilant because enough is enough.”

One APC Chairmanship candidate who also spoke to our reporter revealed how Hilux Vehicles belonging to State Ministry of Works were suspiciously rebranded to appear as AKISIEC vehicles in order to divert election materials to perfect the planned rigging.

Meanwhile the Senior Special Adviser to Mr. President on National Assembly (Senate) Senator Ita Enang was also at the scene of the imbroglio but he was given a rousing welcome to the AKISIEC office unencumbered even as he told the media in his brief interview that the whole matter would be resolved soon. He was also seen having a “Tet-a-tet” with some of his party youth leaders on ground perhaps allaying them of their fears but all was to no avail because shortly after he left and the embattled Senator Bassey Akpan arrived the scene all hell was let loose as stones and dangerous items were thrown at the PDP lawmaker.

Attempts by the security agents to quell the agitation of the angry APC Youths only resulted into an escalated crisis as tear gas and rubber bullets were being fired to disperse the mob failed. This situation caused the Senate Committee Chairman on Gas to remain hostage inside the AKISIEC from 5pm till 10pm Friday evening.

A BBN Photojournalist named, Mr Emmanuel Gbolagade was caught up in the midst of this chaos while carrying out his professional duties of covering all sides of the story ended up in the hands of the angry Youths who brutalised him and deliberately vandalised his video camera and tripod. It was also ironical to note that this incident occurred inside the AKISIEC premises and in front of the security agents who watched aloof until the Distinguished Senator Albert Bassey Akpan came to his rescue.

No official of AKISIEC was willing to speak or respond to the issue as the AKISIEC Commissioner in charge of Works and Real Estate refused to respond to the issue despite being an eyewitness and victim of the same youth brutality.

Responding to the issue Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni has insisted that justice must be served to Mr Gbolagade or any other journalist as it is within the boundaries of journalism profession to cover before, during and after election activities for the benefit of Nigerians. Similarly the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) Uyo chapter was informed of the matter through an NTA correspondent who interviewed the brutalised journalist.

Governor Emmanuel Udom casting his vote at his polling unit

So far as at the time of filing this report only a few polling units were reported to have began voting just as Governor Udom Emmanuel cast his vote amidst the cheering crowd in his hometown ward of Awa, Eket LGA.

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