By CrossRiverWatch Admin
CrossRiverWatch Civic Space Editor, Jonathan Ugbal was on Wednesday attacked by agents of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP in Calabar Municipality while covering a protest by youths of the Ikot Abasi Obori community.
He was beaten by agents of the PDP outside a campaign office used by two of the party’s candidates – Hon. Eta Mbora (Calabar Municipal/Odukpani federal constituency) and Hon. Efa Esua (Calabar Municipal House of Assembly) along Mekenge Layout, off Old Ikang road.
His devices were damaged, and a phone, some cash, as well as his office identity card were stolen from him in the process.
Narrating his experience, Ugbal who is seeking medical attention over the bruises and pains from the beat down, said he was informed by a youth leader in the community of the protest which they said was to draw attention to the lack of public utilities – power, water, and roads and monitored it up to the campaign office where the situation turned for worse.
Find below his narration:
“On Wednesday morning, Miss Rachael Bassey called me to inform me of a protest by her community, Ikot Abasi Obori community of Ward 6 in Calabar Municipal Local Government Area.
“Since the community was on my route after leaving Hit 95.9 FM for a live program where I was a guest, I called her up and the protest was delayed for hours before it kicked off.
“The youths gathered with cardboard sheets wherein they inscribed several messages demanding their Representatives to provide them with a transformer, good access road, and pipe borne water.
“After a brief address at the broken down transformer near the market, the youths numbering about 40 left for Ndidem Usang-Iso road (Marian road as it is popularly called), to meet with the Member representing Calabar Municipal/Odukpani federal constituency, Honorable Eta Mbora and the Member representing Calabar Municipal in the Cross River State House of Assembly, Honorable Efa Esua Nyong.
“They told me they wanted to take their grievances there with hopes that they can be addressed. I arrived at what was described as the campaign office of Eta Mbora on a street off Old Ikang and a stone’s throw away from Marian Hotel.
“I asked what was going on since there was a huge crowd there already and was informed that party agents of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP converged to strategize for the February 25th, 2023 Presidential, and National Assembly polls.
“I asked for a convenience to ease myself and someone muttered something in Efik before asking me if I was a woman and should go ease myself up the street (actually a close) as every other guy will do.
“While walking up there, a fracas ensued behind me and I could spot a fellow in a red shirt collecting the placards and setting them on fire meters away from a dark IVM van which I recognize from the PDP Presidential campaigns in the State.
“The argument continued for about Seven to 10 minutes and then cooled down as most of those from the Ikot Abasi Obori community left. I inquired about what had happened from another person who told me that the PDP folks had suspected that the demonstration was sponsored by a stalwart of the All Progressives Congress, APC. He said they kept asking why they would come to meet their Representatives instead of going to the Governor’s office or the State office of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company.
“I spent another five minutes for the crowded street to clear and kept trying to call Ms. Rachael to inquire what happened that they left. I could not get her.
“However, minutes later, I began walking down the street, and then her number connected and while asking what actually transpired, I was surrounded by a group of nearly 20 people who began hitting me and throwing all sorts of invectives.
“I tried to struggle my way out initially and decided to rather plead with them since they overpowered me. A good Samaritan managed to drag me into a small store and shielded the door while my laptop bag (a totes bag) was taken off me. The phone I had used to take photographs at Ikot Abasi Obori, and Infinix SMART 5, which was what I used in calling Ms. Rachael, was snatched from me too. The iPhone 6s which I use as a backup device due to its slightly cracked screen was smashed on the road by someone who took it off my back pocket. Also, my bag which contained the laptop and was snatched from me was thrown on the road.
“While inside the store, a few came to inquire who I was while others kept shouting from outside saying, “make we blind am or knack am.
“After introducing myself. One went outside and asked whether I had taken any photographs at the scene which meant that they immediately accessed the gallery while I was trying to call and a voice answered no. The voice also said that the ones there were from somewhere else but he has deleted them and also from the ‘trash’ folder of my cloud and that they can now let me go. I saw the Infinix SMART 5 on the pavement while walking out and noticed that the screen had cracked further. However, a third device, a Redmi 10C was held by one of them.
“By the time I came out, I was still slapped and punched by a few while others who said they knew me, pleaded that there was no way I would have been among what they described as “those people with their wahala.
“This group walked me down towards the skip bin (waste collection bin) at Old Ikang by Marian before another group came and snatched my bag and phones again. One of them was called either ‘Etim’ or ‘Etim’ by his colleagues. He held the bag. Others kept saying, ‘make we loot am’ and told me to go home, that they will get in contact with me after “screening my devices.” I asked them how they intended to do that since all my devices were with them.
“They dragged me back and asked me to introduce myself again which I did. While talking, one rushed at me and asked me to sit on the ground before others intervened and said clearly I was not one of the Abasi Obori people.
“It was at this point while complaining that I was feeling a terrible headache that someone behind me gave me a knock and my bag was returned. The fellow who walked me down the road asked me to walk briskly as I may be attacked again.
“Upon crossing the road and walking up to Marian by the Mobil fueling station, I searched my bag and discovered that the Infinix SMART 5 had been removed. My old CrossRiverWatch Identity Card and all the cash I had on me excluding a Fifty Naira note.
“I had to keep trekking for kilometers to a safe zone where I have penned this while still feeling a terrible headache and pains in my left knee and neck.”I tried calling the phone which was almost at 75 percent battery power and it was switched off.”