By Ovie Okpare
Some officials of the Delta State Taskforce on Environment and Sanitation on Wednesday attacked the state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Michael Ikeogwu while monitoring the Day-One of the Stay-at-home order of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in the state over the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
Also attacked is the Warri Correspondent of Daily Post Online, Mr. Matthew Omonigho, who joined the Delta NUJ chairman to monitor the level of compliance to the COVID-19 lockdown in the state to curb the spread of the virus to the state.
Ikeogwu who ran into officials of the taskforce reportedly forcing residents of Otiotio Street in Uvwie Local Government Area of the state to clean their surroundings in total disregard to the directive of Governor Okowa for social distancing during the stay-at-home order.
The Delta NUJ chairman who approached the leader of the team, Kingsley Iweka, to enquire if forceful environmental sanitation was part of the governor’s directive was immediately descended on irate officials of the taskforce.
Ikeogwu, who reminded the team that gathering people for sanitation without observing the social distance runs afoul of Okowa directives, was seized and jacked up by the taskforce officials for pocknosing into affairs that was none of his business.
While trying to explain further, Iweka reportedly ordered his men numbering over 20 to attack the NUJ Chairman and Omonigho, and in the process destroying Nikon D3100 photo-camera belonging to Daily Post reporter.
An audio recording of the scuffle obtained by NIGER DELTA TODAY Online had some irate taskforce members molesting the NUJ boss.
Comrade Ikeogwu and his colleague were also held hostage for about 45minutes by officials of the environmental tasforce.
It took the swift intervention of the State Chairman of the Environment Taskforce, Mr. Syvelster Oromoni to calm the nerves of his overzealous officers through a phone call to allow the Delta NUJ chairman to leave the area.
However, Comrade Ikeogwu, while recalling his ordeal in the hands of the officials, said the action of the taskforce contradict the directive of the state governor who ordered the stay-at-home directive to curtail the spread of the disease.
The NUJ chair said, “Today is not environmental sanitation. Why should a taskforce constituted for environmental sanitation come out on a day that people were asked to stay at home to enforce environmental sanition?
“Their order was further endangering the lives of the people as it contravenes the social order of the Governor. That. Was why I intervened to stop them from what they were doing? But they claimed that the order was from their Chairman.
“I am disappointed in the attitude of the leader of the team having after introduced myself to him who ordered his boys to attack me and my colleague. I wish to call on the State Governor to look into this matter because many people will fall victim of this before the end of the lockdown order.
“It was the residents of the area who called us to come and see what happening. How they were being forced to come and do environmental sanitation. However, I thank God it didn’t go beyond that. I go and treat myself because I was attacked.”
A resident who simply identified himself as Mohammed alleged that were in their homes in line with Governor Okowa’s directive when members of the taskforce stormed their homes and ordered them to go out to clean their surroundings.
“We were forced out of our houses. If you say No, they will beat and arrest you. That’s why I came out like other people for the sanitation”, he said
But reacting to the assault of the NUJ chairman, the leader of the taskforce that attacked the journalists denied the allegation, saying that the issue was amicably resolved before he left the area.