The journalist reportedly published an article which “exposed the failures of the Ebonyi state government in many sectors”.
A journalist, Charles Otu, who is based in Ebonyi, was allegedly assaulted inside the State Government House in Abakaliki.
Otu was said to have been beaten mercilessly on Friday, June 2, over a controversial Facebook post.
The victim is said to be a correspondent of Guardian Newspaper, and also the publisher of ‘Conscience’, a local newspaper
In his newspaper and on Facebook, Otu reportedly published an article which “exposed the failures of the Ebonyi state government in many sectors”.
According to a statement released by a source privy to the incident, the journalist also critically analysed programmes and projects of the state government in the publication.
Otu’s attackers are said to be loyalists of the State Governor, David Umahi.
The statement said, “On the 2nd of June 2017, Charles Otu went to a newspaper stand at the popular Vanco junction, Abakaliki to see some vendors. While there, a bus branded with the name ‘Akubaroha Youth Assembly’ – a youth organisation initiated by the governor allegedly serving as his strong arm – stopped in front of the newsstand and thugs carrying guns jumped out and kidnapped him, but not after he had been beating up in the presence of people as he was struggling to escape.
“He was taken to the Ebonyi state government house, Abakaliki where he was forced out of the vehicle and made to lie on the ground. Workers who were leaving their offices as it was already past 4pm, on seeing the state he was in began to scream and the thugs forced them out of the gate and locked up everywhere.
“They brought out machetes, rods and sticks and proceeded to beat him up – over twenty of them jostling and shoving to get their turn at him. They accused him of making a post on Facebook two days earlier x-raying the activities of the state government and matching the failure of the government to the inaugural speech made by Governor, Engr. David Umahi the day he was sworn in. The said post had gone very viral and had given the state governor some serious headache as never in the past had anyone ever given such an analysis against the government.
“Present with the thugs were some senior special advisers to the governor. While the journalist was pleading for his life, they informed him that the instruction was to kill him.”
While the thugs were taking rounds on the journalist, a top government official was said to have contacted the police authorities in the state.
The statement further said that “the signal was sent to the commissioner of police in Ebonyi. At the time, calls were already coming from all parts of the country, including from the security.
“At the time he was being manhandled and assaulted at the Ebonyi state government house, the news was everywhere on social media. Knowing that they’d been discovered, the thugs got calls from those that sent them not to kill Mr Charles Otu but to get him to write an undertaking that he was going to move away from Ebonyi and that he would never report nor write anything against the state government.
“One of the thugs suggested that since the abduction of the abduction had leaked that it was best to take him to the police and he would sign the undertaking while at the police station.
“They bundled him into their vehicle and ordered the journalist not to raise his head and not to mention any of their names. At the Kpirikpiri Police Station, they informed the police that he saw some people beating the young man up and rescued him. “They were working in connivance with the police, so while they were drafting their undertaking, the police asked him to write his statement, but he was too weak to do so.
“While this was ongoing, friends and well-wishers gathered at the police station, demanding his rescue – it was then that the dying journalist vomited blood and water, then passed out.
“Friends who were at the police station snatched him from the police, and put him in a car to be taking to the hospital but the thugs blocked the vehicle, while the police watched without doing anything. It took a great effort before the vehicle carrying the unconscious journalist was able to escape and he was rushed to the emergency unit of the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki.