Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to order the immediate arrest and prosecution of Mr. Uche Uzodimma, brother to the Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma, and others involved in the criminal attack and brutalization of Mr. Precious Nwadike, editor of the Owerri-based newspaper, Community Watchdog.
The organization called on the Police to thoroughly investigate the circumstances leading to the brutal assault on Mr. Nwadike, citing reports that his newspaper, Community Watchdog, had published critical reports on the Uzodinma Administration in the State, which may have been responsible for the unexplained hostility towards the journalists and the assault on him.
In a statement in Lagos issued by its Director of Programmes, Mr. Ayode Longe, MRA condemned the February 9 attack on the editor by Mr. Uche Uzodimma and hoodlums acting at his behest, during which they beat up and tortured Mr. Nwadike, leaving him badly bruised and unconscious on the roadside.
Mr. Longe said: “Mr. Uche Uzodimma was obviously emboldened in carrying out such a barbaric and criminal act by the fact that he is a brother to the State Governor and the confidence that given his status, he could get away with inflicting grievous bodily harm on another citizen. It is imperative that he is made to understand in no uncertain terms that his relationship with the Governor does not confer any special status on him and that he is not superior to any other citizen.”
He also called on the relevant anti-corruption agencies in the country to launch an investigation into the circumstances under which Uche Uzodimma, a brother to the Governor, was awarded road construction contracts in Imo State under a ruling party that came to power on an anti-corruption manifesto.
Mr. Longe contended that “It is apparent that such acts which evidence a total disregard for propriety, decency and the rule of law have resulted in delusions of grandeur on the part of Mr. Uche Uzodimma such that he now believes that he can willfully violate the rights of other citizens with impunity. Such anti-social and criminal behavior should be strongly deprecated by every well-meaning Nigerian, particularly those in authority who have a duty to protect all citizens”.
Recounting his experience on his hospital bed, Mr. Nwadike said he had gone to register for the National Identity Number (NIN) and had to pass through a portion of the road where the governor’s brother, who happens to be the contractor, was carrying out construction work.
According to him, he parked his car across the road and attempted to cross over the other lane, when Uche Uzodimma held him and started beating him. He thereafter ordered some thugs who were with him to deal with the journalist and stood by watching his thugs beat Mr. Nwadike until he lost consciousness when one of them hit him at the back of his neck, following which he passed out. He was later revived and taken to the hospital by bystanders.
Mr. Nwadike was quite surprised by the attack on him as other motorists were also driving through the road and none of them was stopped or harassed in any way.