Two journalists on Saturday narrowly escaped death after being severely attacked by armed thugs working for the principal secretary to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Hilary Ibegbulem, during the just concluded Delta State Local Government Area controversial election.
Giving the names of the two attacked journalists, Mr. Matthew Omonigho, Delta State correspondent of the Daily Post and Mr. Onyekachukwu Meleuwa, Delta State correspondent of the Authentic News Daily, SaharaReporters learned that the journalists were lucky as they were almost killed by the armed thugs working for the governor's principal secretary, Mr. Ibegbulem.
Narrating their ordeals in the hands of the armed thugs, the two journalists, Mr. Omonigho and Mr. Meleuwa, said the near bloody attack occurred on the very day of the local government area elections when they stormed into the supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), thumb printing and stuffing ballot boxes at Awulor Primary School, Ute-Okpu Community, Ika North East Local Government Area of the state.
"Immediately we stormed the primary school at about 11:30 am where the electoral fraud was going on, the armed thugs who were led by a person named Endurance, a personal assistant to Okowa's principal secretary began to attack us to the point of a coma with accusation that we were sent to come and capture what was going on in the primary schools. Our phones, substantial amount of money, our still and video cameras were all carted away in the process," Mr. Omonigho said.
On his part, the correspondent of the Authentic News Daily, Mr. Onyekachukwu Meleuwa, who was attacked at Ekpo Primary School by the Ute-Okpu market Square in Ika North East Local Government Area, narrated that if not for God, by now they would have been no more following the severe attack.
"Shortly after the attack, Hilary the principal secretary to Governor Okowa entered the Primary School and ballot papers were moved behind the school for massive thumb printing. Our gadgets were destroyed while others confiscated. It was the following day, Sunday, Hilary released the video camera after destroying. My Nikon D3200 Photo camera has been released by Hilary. Yet to be released to us is the Omonigho's Nikon D80 photo camera and Microsoft Windows phone," Meleuwa said.
It was gathered that the Delta State chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ), Mr. Michael Ikeogwu who was not happy with the situation has intervened in the matter.
It would be recalled that in May 2016, Mr. Hilary Ibegbulem allegedly led another killer squad with pump-action shotguns against one Mr. Sunday Okonye, who was accused of burning down Okowa’s governorship billboards in Agbor.
In a related development, Delta state correspondent of the National Reformer Newspapers, Jerry Hezekiah was on Monday beaten to a point of coma by one Adaighofua Irikefe, an aide to the commissioner representing Isoko ethnic nationality in the Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC), Oviemuno Oghoore.
The Journalist was attacked while covering a protest by the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, (JONPWD), Isoko South and North chapter against the DESOPADEC Commissioner over the release of N1 million by the commission to JONAPWD and embezzled by the commissioner.
According to the journalist, the commissioner's aide boasted to kill him after carting away his belongings.
"My phones and other belongings were carted away even at that the commissioner's aide threatened to take my life if the report appears anywhere."
As at the time of filing this report, calls and messages to the principal secretary to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Hilary Ibegbulem as well as the commissioner, Mr. Oghoore for comment were rebuffed.