Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
What began like a normal day last Monday ended up in sorrow for a retired photojournalist with the Nigerian Observer Newspapers, Mr. Lucky Agie, who was attacked by suspected armed robbers on his way home.
Trouble started for Agie, now a freelancer after retirement, when he boarded a taxi along Akpakpava road in Benin City not knowing that the passengers inside the vehicle were armed robbers.
He was attacked with dangerous objects, beaten and thrown out of the vehicle into a valley after being dispossessed of his belongings, including his camera worth over N400,000, ATM card, identity cards and cash.
A good Samaritan rescued him and took him to a private hospital where he is currently recuperating.
Narrating his ordeal to journalists at the private hospital with a heavily bandaged right eye, stitched head and swollen face, Agie said: â€œI watched the first half of the Cameroun versus Nigeria match at the NUJ Press Centre, and wanted to go home. I tried to start my car but it could not after colleagues helped me to push it severally. So I decided to go by public transport, and I was dropped off at Akpakpava and entered a taxi, an Audi 80 painted in the state colours. Some passengers were inside including a lady which gave me the courage to enter the vehicle because I am always wary not knowing that the lady was part of the gang.
â€œI flagged the driver down that I was going to Ewa Road junction, I immediately paid the driver when I entered the vehicle and he said he didnâ€™t have change, so one of the passengers behind gave him N100 and he added N50 which he gave to me as my change. Just before Second Junction, near Total Filling Station, one of the passengers alighted and another entered who now sat with me in the front seat, and immediately the driver drove off, they started beating me and hitting me with objects that injured my head and my eyes, they even tried to strangle me with my shirt which they tore.
â€œThey took my D-90 camera, my ATM card, my NUJ ID card, my official ID card and everything I had on me. They asked for my ATM card PIN which I gave them but they continued to beat me telling me they were going to throw me into the Ikpoba River. I didnâ€™t have any strength to retaliate as blood was gushing out of my body until they got to Ikpoba Hill, and after the bridge, pushed me into the valley and continued beating then left me apparently unconscious as I faintly heard one of them saying letâ€™s finish him.
â€œAfter they drove off, I was able to struggle out of the valley and tried to wave at passersby to help me until a Good Samaritan came and took me in his taxi to the hospital. I was only able to remember my elder brotherâ€™s number who lives in Abuja. I called him and he reached my people in Benin-City who now came to see me. I have told my younger brother to report the matter at the police station.â€
Consequent upon this, the Chairman of Edo State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Roland Osakue, shortly after leading some members of the union to visit Agie, called on security agencies to check the spate of robberies and killings in the state, saying the attacks especially against journalists were becoming alarming.
He noted that many journalists have been robbed while some escaped by whiskers in various parts of the state capital.
He noted the notorious area as Ekenwan road, Airport road, Urubi-Uselu-Ugbowo-Oluku road among others.
Few weeks ago, a journalist with NTA Benin, Lawrence Okojie, was murdered by gunmen few metres from his house after the close of work.