by Adeola Balogun
The wedding of Bisoye Obasanjo, son of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, was not quite a joyous event for a cameraman assigned by the Africa Independent Television (AIT) to cover the event.
According to reports, the AIT staff, Chineye Sunday was assaulted by an operative of the State Security Service (SSS) who was deployed to the Ebonyi State Government House in Abakaliki.
Mr. Sunday was trying to take photos of dignitaries at the event when he was allegedly pushed and punched by the SSS officer.
The event which was the traditional marriage ceremony of the former President of Nigeria, General ‘s son, and his wife, Chigozie Nwenyi at Okpuitumo, Ndufu Ikwo Development Centre of Ikwo LGA in Ebonyi State was almost ruined, if not for the display of comportment and maturity exhibited by the AIT cameraman during and after the attack on him.
Vanguard gathered that Mr. Sunday left the scene of the event with bruises, swollen face and a damaged camera worth over N1 million.
Narrating his ordeal, “The thing is that similar incident has happened before during a function and it was a National Assembly member, Hon. Tobias Okwuru that had to intervene in the matter.
After that incident, the next one was the one that happened at Ikwo during Chief Obasanjo’ son’s traditional marriage on Saturday.
Immediately I entered where dignitaries were and established my shots the guy (SSS operative) who was at my back pushed me. When that happened, I now started staggering with myself and my equipment.
“I went to the guy and asked him, why he did what he did; the next thing was for him to punch me close to my eyes. It was a terrible incident that happened before dignitaries and even before the ADC to the Governor and if it was possible the ADC would have beaten up the guy but he restrained himself.
“My camera that was damaged is worth over N1 million and I cannot use it again to cover any function for government or anybody else until it is repaired or a new one purchased for me,” he lamented.
Speaking with a cross section of journalists in the state, some of them expressed disappointment over the incident and called on the state government to deal decisively with the SSS personnel, if not they would never cover any event involving the Governor since their safety cannot be guaranteed.
“We are shocked, embarrassed and humiliated by this development. This SSS guys are fond of obstructing us from doing our job both in the Government House and at the Stadium; and the most annoying aspect of it is that they know us very well. We are all in the Government House. We are not strangers to them.
“We wonder who gave them the audacity to attack us. It is only in Ebonyi State we feel threatened to do our job. These guys need training and retraining; they shouldn’t vent their anger on us if their condition of service is not acceptable to them. They should allow us to do our job while they do theirs. Journalists world over are harmless persons”.
Reacting to the incident, the Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists, South East Zone, Mr. Christopher Isiguzo who stated that he was yet to study the intricacies surrounding the case, condemned it entirely. He added that the zone would reach out to State Director of SSS with a view to ensuring that such development does not occur in future.
Meanwhile, the ADC to Ebonyi State Governor, Mohammed Tijan, Chief Security Officer, CSO, and Chief Detail appealed to Journalists in the state to express calm over the incident as the affected SSS operative would not escape any disciplinary measure.
However, effort made by Journalists in the State to get the attention of the SSS operative proved abortive as he did not want to discuss the matter.