The Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ, has threatened to boycott coverage of programmes and activities within Uvwie Local Government Area following attack on Delta Broadcasting Service, Warri, news crew by the Effurun market master led thugs at the market.

The news crew of Comrade Linus Chima and John Osuji were at the market on Wednesday to monitor compliance of the COVID-19 social distancing rule, when they were harassed, manhandled and beaten by five of the thugs on orders of the market master.

The Delta State NUJ in a statement signed by the State Chairman, Comrade Michael Ikeogwu and the Secretary, Comrade Churchill Oyowe, viewed the attack on the DBS Warri news crew and recent attacks on journalists in the state as barbaric in an era where the tenets and freedom of the press are expected to be held in high esteem.

The union called on the Chairman of Uvwie Local Government, Mr. Ramsey Onoyake to apologise to NUJ and arrest and prosecute the Effurun market master and his thugs that attacked the DBS Warri news crew.

The media the union noted will not be daunted in the face of the unfriendly atmosphere some security agencies and government officials have put in place.

“It is becoming disheartening that media practitioners, in the course of carrying out their constitutional responsibility, have unfortunately, turned targets for attacks by members of the public, particularly security agencies and governmental bodies in Delta State.

“Only recently, the Chairman of the NUJ, Michael Ikeogwu and a reporter with Daily Trust newspapers were harassed and manhandled somewhere in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area of the state for inquiring from officials of the state environmental taskforce if people should congregate for clean up in the face of effort aimed at curtailing the spread of the corona virus.

“Few days after that incident, a photo journalist with the Pointer newspapers, Norbert Amede, was brutally attacked by security agents (the police) in Ibusa, Oshimili North Local Government Area. The attack left Amede physically disfigured and hospitalized for days.

Sadly, the leverage of the media to operate responsibly is daily curtailed and threatened by security agents and government officials who have skeletons to cover,” the NUJ noted.

The union reminded governments at all levels in the state of their responsibility to protect the lives of the citizens, including media practitioners.

According to the union, “the authorities must stand up to their responsibilities and protect the sanctity of the freedom of the press as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.

“We however call on our members to be law abiding and continue to go about their duties responsibly while we call on authorities in the local, state and federal governments to take urgent steps to stem the tide of attacks on media personnel.

“For the avoidance of doubt, our governmental bodies should be reminded that these same media they are treating with disdain were at the forefront of the fight for the democracy these levels of government are presenting savouring. The media deserve a better deal.

In conclusion, we may be left with the option of a total blackout of coverage of the lock down order if the needless attacks on our highly esteemed members continue.”