Over 20 soldiers of Operation Python dance stormed the state secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and beat up journalists and smashed their gadgets.
The soldiers who patrolled the streets of Umuahia in their show of strength, otherwise called python dance came into the NUJ centre saying that journalists were taking pictures of their action.
Riding in fifteen Armor Personnel Carrier (APC), 20 Trucks and Six Hilux vans, the solders on getting to the Abia Tower, where the Abia NUJ state secretariat is located, three trucks carrying close to twenty soldiers packed and personnel jump down.
The Nation reports that immediately the soldiers came down, they ran upstairs where the Press Centre was located and invaded the state Council office where journalists and correspondents were seated.
“The soldiers surrounded the journalists and cocked their rifles and alleging that someone took their pictures when the show of force was ongoing, in the process some journalists were slapped and beaten up.
“The soldiers collected phones, iPad belonging to journalists and smashed them while the soldiers took away some phones; one of the journalists slapped is a traditional ruler and a national trustee of NUJ, Ezeogo Bonny Okoro”.
“When some of us tried to introduce themselves as journalists to the military men, they shouted at us saying shut up I will kill you while, another shouted killed them like chicken after the damage was done the left”.
The Nation noted that while the soldiers were beating up journalists, food vendors and other defenseless people doing their legitimate business ran for their lives as the soldiers took over the NUJ premises and turned it upside down.
In his reaction, the State Chairman of Abia NUJ Comrade John Emejor condemned the invasion of the Press Centre by the soldiers, adding that they were not on national assignments where journalists were not required to cover.
Emejor noted that since the soldiers were doing their show of strength which they called operation python dance, “Journalists have the right to cover it and alert residents of the city not to panic when they see such large number of soldiers”.
He said that with the action of the soldiers that they have desecrated the NUJ press centre, which is a threat to journalism practice in the state, stressing that no journalist ever took pictures of the soldiers operation in the state capital.
Also speaking, a member of the national trustee of NUJ, Ezeogo Boniface Okoro, whose iPad is among those destroyed during the invasion, described their actions on journalists as unfortunate.