Police at about 7:30 am on Sunday arrested a Principal Reporter with the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) Makurdi Network Centre, Comrade Eunice Nyiutsa, at High Level area of the metropolis while monitoring churches adhering to the stay at home directive to check the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
Narrating her ordeal, she said at about 7:30 am along 5th Avenue at Lorkyaa Ako Street, while on duty, a group were holding what looks like a crusade in one compound and as she was waiting for her cameraman to arrive, the police stormed the compound and arrested the congregants including the pastor.
According to her, she was using her android cell phone to capture the scene, but the police stopped and asked her to identify herself which she did, but was forced into the police waiting vehicle and taken to the B. Division Police Station in Makurdi.
The NTA reporter disclosed that the police seized her telephone and attempted to also seize her identity card at the station which she resisted, but was forced to go in close contact with other accused persons in flagrant disobedience to the social distancing policy of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC).
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Benue state council Vice Chairman, Comrade Kajo Martins, who led members to secure the release of the journalist,described the police action as as barbaric, coming at the time the media and security agents should be working in synergy to tackle the spryof the pandemic.
He however, commended a former police spokesperson in the state for his prompt intervention that led to the release of the NTA reporter.
Zonal Director of NTA Makurdi Network Centre, Mr. Pam Dung Nyam, expressed sadness over the matter and promised to lodge a formal complaint to the relevant authorities.
At the time of filing this report, the police were yet to release Comrade Nyiutsa’s telephone to her even as the state Police Public Relations Officer, Catherine Anene in a text message said “I will call you back”.
Meanwhile, a visit to some churches within Makurdi metropolitan showed that Catholic and NKST churches complied with the directive from the Christian Association of Nigeria ((CAN) not to hold church services today as the premises were under lock and key.