The secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Kaduna State Council was attacked by political thugs on Sunday.
They injured journalists, vandalised properties and disrupted a press briefing by some All Progressives Congress’ chieftains in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the thugs overpowered policemen at the entrance to the NUJ secretariat where senators Shehu Sani and Suleiman Hunkuyi addressed a press conference to reject the result of the party’s delegate election.
The thugs wielding dangerous weapons inflicted injury to the head of a cameraman with Liberty Television, Lawal Muhammed, damaged several cameras and injured two other reporters.
The thugs also broke doors, windows and damaged chairs and tables at the secretariat.
The chieftains of the APC chased away by the thugs included House of Representatives’ members – Muhamaed Usman and Musa Soba, Alhaji Tijjani Ramalan, Alhaji Yaro Makama, Ambassador Sule Buba and a former legislator, Alhaji Isa Ashiru.
Trouble started when the Gabassawa Divisional Police Officer, CSP Sadiq Abdullahi, allegedly allowed the thugs to enter into the venue.
Meanwhile, the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Agyole Abeh, who visited the NUJ secretariat, pledged that the police would apprehend the perpetrators.
According to him, the DPO had briefed him on the incident, claiming that the thugs had identified themselves as journalists before they were allowed into the premises.
The commissioner said that investigation would commence immediately and those found wanting would be prosecuted.
Meanwhile, El-Rufai has condemned the attack and directed the security agencies to immediately investigate the cause of the incident.
The governor through his Senior Special Assistant, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, noted that nobody, no matter his status, would be allowed to stifle the freedom of expression in the state.
El-Rufai, while sympathising with the leadership of the Kaduna Council of the NUJ as well as members, also directed that security be beefed up around the secretariat.
He added that the government would not tolerate any attempt to muzzle innocent citizens for exercising their constitutional rights.
The governor said, “Journalists must not be hindered from carrying out their constitutional and professional obligations. The government of Kaduna State upholds the principles of free speech and respects the freedom of expression.
“Politics should not be a desperate game and desperation should not be visited on journalists or any citizen.”
Earlier, during the press conference, the APC chieftains said they were protesting what they termed as the ‘selection‘ of the APC delegates in total disregard of the party’s constitution.
Hunkuyi, who spoke on behalf of the APC leaders, said all the guidelines for the delegates election were breached.
He said that the group had written to the national secretariat of the APC asking it to set aside the purported delegate’s election and announce new date for the exercise.
He said, “Stakeholders were invited on Friday and we were there until 7.30 pm in the evening but the acting chairman and other leaders of the party did not show up.”
According to the party chieftains, the delegates were allegedly handpicked at the Government House.
Also, Sani said they would not accept “any dark room list” as delegates, stressing that the APC was founded on the principle of justice, progress and unity and must be seeing to go by its principles.
“The leadership of the APC in Kaduna would not accept arrogance of power and dictatorship; this is our state and we are sending this message very clear to the political adviser and his principal that we will not compromise, we need free fair and credible election,” Sani said.
But the spokesman for the APC in Kaduna State, Salisu Tanko-Wusono, claimed that the party’s delegate’s election was free, credible and fair.
According to him, the election was attended by all party officials at ward and state level.
Tanko-Wusono, at a press conference at the party secretariat along Ali Akilu way on Sunday, insisted that the delegate election was witnessed by party officials from ward, local and state levels.
Tanko-Wusono added that five officials from the national secretariat of the APC were on ground to supervise the state congress election.
“We acted within the party’s guidelines as no party member(s) was sidelined,” he said.
Reacting to the attack, Sani alleged that it was an assassination attempt on the two lawmakers.
In a series of posts on his Facebook page on Sunday, Sani alleged that the attack was sponsored by El-Rufai, while it was led by a Divisional Police Officer.