Ace photographer and Director in THISDAY Newspapers, Sunmi Smart Cole, was rough handled by President Muhammadu Buhari’s security detail during the colloquium to mark Senator Bola Tinubu’s birthday in Lagos.
Smart-Cole, 76, who is currently recovering from the injuries sustained during the beating in a hospital in Ikoyi (name withheld), narrated how he was rough handled until he slumped.
He threatened to sue the Department of State Service (DSS).
The former head of photography in the presidency and Photo Editor of The Guardian said he was revived by the former Governor, of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba, the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, and the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, who had to vacate his seat for him where he was made to sit down to be revived.
He said he was invited to the colloquium to take photographs, and that things were going on well until the president arrived and the place became rowdy.
According to him, there were so many DSS personnel and most of them wore suit and were allegedly pushing people around, including those who had their invitation cards and waiting to pass through the metal dictator for security checks.
“I was invited by the vice-president’s office. The vice-president told one of his assistants, Mrs. Uwais, the wife of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, to invite me to cover the event.
“The security operatives around the president continued to push me until I became exhausted and I slumped because my legs became weak. I slumped right in front of Segun Osoba, Niyi Adebayo, the former Governor of Ekiti State; the Governor Tambuwal, and Governor Okorocha, who sat together, including the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki. They all saw me. I am the oldest working journalist in Nigeria.
“I slumped but I did not pass out. Prof. Pat Utomi and the Publisher of Ovation Magazine were detailed by Osoba to keep me seated, saying I get too excited when I carry camera. He seized my camera,” Smart-Cole narrated to THISDAY.
The ace photographer said the Okorocha got off from his chair where he sat for almost one hour.
“When Buhari entered with about 50 security personnel, things changed. If you stood near them they would give you elbow. At a time, I just told one of them, ‘I am an old man; I am actually 76 years old’. He said he didn’t care and directed another security official to make sure ‘this old man does not come near the president’. I had to take photographs from a distance,” he narrated.
At the hospital thursday, Smart-Cole said the doctors were not yet satisfied with his recovery, which means he would still spend more days there.