December 6, 2023

An ugly and fatal situation was averted last weekend when a brand journalist and publisher BranDish newspaper, Mr. Ikem Okuhu escaped an orchestrated adoption and kidnap attempt by plain clothed policemen who claimed they  came from Enugu Police Command to arrest him at the funeral of his in-law on the pretense of order from above.

In a press statement issued by the renowned author , he narrated how at about 5.30 pm, on that faithful day two men who introduced themselves as officers of the Nigerian Police, Enugu State Command, accosted him at Umabor, Eha Alumona Nsukka, in what  he saw as a broad daylight kidnap attempt.

“We were at Umabor for the burial of the father-in-law of my younger brother, and I had gone out to make a phone call when one of these people walked up to me and started a casual conversation, but soon said he had an order to bring me to Enugu.

Okuhu said he initially thought the guys were joking, and he asked them who they were and why he should follow strangers to Enugu, but their responses affirmed his fears when he was told that they were police officers, and that somebody had written a petition against him.

Ikem said his inquiry as regards who wrote the petition and what the issue was about did not yield anything, as he was soon joined by another roughly dressed man who also claimed he was a policeman. “When I asked them for identification, they refused and instead, tried to herd me to their vehicle, an ash-coloured Toyota Sienna minivan” he said.

Ikem also said he was to later learn from friends who knew them that there were five of them in number at the venue, while two were engaging him, the others milled in the crowd ready to take action, should there be any skirmish that might result in the use of firearms.

He said upon noticing the danger around him, he became afraid for his life, and extricated himself from their company and went straight to inform his younger brother and a few friends who were with them for the funeral ceremony.

He said sooner than later, crowds soon began to gather, as more people demanded that they properly identify themselves, to which they refused. “I immediately knew I was in danger and, with the help of my friends, I left the place and went into hiding” he said.

Ikem said he suspected the powers that be in Enugu State may be behind the attempt to compromise his safety and freedom.” I felt this way because, on August 3, 2023, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Enugu State on New Media, Reuben Onyishi, was bragging in a WhatsApp Group that goes by the name, Nsk LGA Political Class, that I and another man, Aniebo Nwamu, would soon be arrested and clamped in detention for what he said was “cybercrime.”

Ikem said he has in the course of his activities had confrontations with a number of PDP supporters in the media; particularly the said Reuben Onyishi through the stories that he regularly publishes on WhatsApp and other online media platforms, noting that the Reuben has called him all manner of unprintable names and accused him of the worst, including saying that he was a homosexual and has illicit sodomy with Hon. Chijioke Edeoga.

He said that since the swearing-in of Peter Mbah as the governor of Enugu State on May 29, 2023, there has been a disconcerting criminalization of free speech and opposition politics. The media he said have been under severe and dangerous attack from security agencies working on the orders of the state government. It has got so bad that press men in Enugu live in fear, as they are routinely hunted down and clamped into detention under very flimsy excuses.

He cited an instance weeks ago, one journalist nmed Michael Ilediagu, publisher of News Centre, an online newspaper, was arrested, according to police, for cyber terrorism, and detained in one of the police stations in the state capital.

Ikem said it took the intervention of the President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Comrade Chris Isiguzo to free him from the vice grip of his persecutors. Information had it that the police claimed they had an “order from above” to send him to prison for publishing a story about the upheaval that followed the ban on “sit-at-home” in the state by the government.

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