Security operatives attached to the Minister of State for Abuja, Olajumoke Akinjide, on Tuesday, attacked a reporter from The Guardian newspapers for taking pictures of the minister’s convoy stuck in rain sludge; thereby setting up a scene after an inspection tour.
The furious operatives, made up of policemen and men of the State Security Services shoved and jabbed Terhembe Daka, an Abuja bureau reporter for the newspaper, officially assigned to cover the FCT ministry, before deleting what they claimed were offensive pictures from his Blackberry.
Ms. Akinjide had inspected hectares of the Millennium Development Goals maize farm at Kuchibunyi, a rural settlement in Bwari council in company of key officials of the ministry, before heavy rains caused the trip aborted, and forced the convoy back through a mucky labyrinth of farm ridges and marshes.
The minister’s convoy of Land cruiser jeeps and security pick-ups got trapped in the dirt, providing a quintessential lure for reporters travelling separately in a bus in the convoy.
After attempts by aides and residents of the area to pull the vehicles clear of the sludge yielded no results, journalists made brief attempts to capture the events- a gamble Nigeria’s notoriously overzealous security escorts loathe.
The police aide to Ms. Akinjide accosted the Guardian reporter, seized his phone as the minister’s vehicle, now pulled off, sped past.
After questioning Mr. Daka on why he made the tapes, the aide and the FCT Coordinator of MDG programs and Director of Economic Planning, Ari Isah Mohammed, deleted the files.
Agents of the State Security Service soon joined the fray shoving and attempting to punch the reporter who asked that his phone he returned. The officials shrugged off explanations from other journalists on why the recordings were necessary.
“This should not be for the Press,” some of the officials screamed at the reporters.
The drama eventually ended with the intervention of the Special Assistant (SA) on Media and Public Affairs to the Minister, Oluyinka Olukayode, who apologized to the journalists.
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