Nathan Tamarapreye, Yenagoa
Police have rescued journalists who were attacked in Nembe, Bayelsa State by armed hoodlums on Monday evening.
The Bayelsa State-based journalists were said to have gone to the community for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation following reports of alleged human rights violations during an operation by the police on Saturday in Basambiri settlement in Nembe.
The journalists include Mr Joseph Kunde of TVC and his cameraman, Mr Bina Miebi, Mr Awe Baratuapere of NTA and his cameraman, Mr Ayebakuro Egein, Mrs Iniyekenime Bruce of Daar Communications and Mr Femi Folaranmi of The Sun.
Folaranmi, who recounted the harrowing experience explained that the journalists were being taken around to see the property of some exiled chiefs destroyed by some youths of the community before the deployment of the Police Mobile Force (PMF) and the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) by the Inspector- General of Police.
He recalled that trouble started when the team was at the last destroyed building belonging to the regent as boys armed with sophisticated arms and dangerous weapons appeared from all corners.
“In the ensuing uncertainties, the team scampered for safety taking refuge in some houses while others kept running to the Police base.
“It took the gallant efforts of the Policemen led by the Unit Commander, who I simply identified as Silas to engage the hoodlums in a shoot-out. While Mr Baratuapere and myself made it to the Police base, the rest were trapped in the community.
“Silas led a team of Policemen to rescue Kunde and brought him to the Police base but his cameraman, Miebi was not so lucky.
When Moebi came out of hiding, he ran into the hands of the hoodlums who after identifying him as a TVC camera man took turns to beat him and confiscated his camera and phones. He was stripped of his dress which was used to tie his hands behind his back and legs.
“Silas after hours of brainstorming with other operatives went back into the community and engaged in a gun duel with the hoodlums to rescue Miebi,” Folaranmi said.
According to Folaranmi, another detachment was at the bridge out of the community to engage another set of hoodlums who had laid ambush there.
“Iniyekenime who had been stripped of her camera and phones by the hoodlums who hid her as the assailants were searching for the journalists, was later helped to escape to the nearby Ogbolomabiri where the Police team led by Silas rescued and brought her to the police base.
“The owner of the house, the NTA cameraman, Egein took refuge in told the Police team that Egein was safe but insisted that he won’t divulge the location because of fear that the hoodlums would attack him afterwards,” Folaranmi recalled.
He said that when the siege ended at about 12.30 am, Silas, six Hilux vans loaded with armed Policemen escorted the journalists out of the community to Yenagoa.
The Sun correspondent said that Egein, the only journalist who was left behind has also returned to Yenagoa while the policemen have intensified efforts to recover the cameras.