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Hoodlums yesterday attacked the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Channel 12, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

The hoodlums vandalised the offices and set vehicles belonging to the station on fire.

The attack was said to be fallout of the conflict between the police and motorcycle operators in Uyo.

The police had arrested motorcyclists on Tuesday.

The police said the arrest was in line the enforcement of the directive by the Akwa Ibom State government that motorcycles should not ply major roads.

This led to the death of one of the motorcyclists, a development which prompted the protest.

Hoodlums believed to have hijacked the protest had gone on the rampage and attacked the Federal Government-owned media establishment.

A car, a bus, security post and electronic signpost were burnt while windows, doors of the offices and chapel were destroyed.

Some NTA staff, who were injured during the attack, fled the premises in different directions.

The General Manager of NTA, Channel 12, Uyo, Mr. Ohifeme Aigbochie, told journalists that the Public Relations Officer of the media organisation, on sighting the protesters at the NTA gate, had believed they wanted the press to cover their protest and had reported same to him.

He said before he could draw the attention of the Manager, News, the security post was already on fire hence they had to alert the police who, he said, came after one hour.

The police C Division and the state Police Command Headquarters are a stone throw from NTA.

Aigbochie, however, said the state Police Commissioner, Ahmed Zaki, visited the station and announced that about 20 suspects were arrested.

He said: “We thank God that no life was lost and our transmitter is not affected. What happened was out of ignorance and it is a misplaced aggression. We have no business with the directive the governor had given. So why transfer the aggression to us.”

The GM said he was convinced the hoodlums did not visit the premises in need for coverage since they were already with petrol and dangerous weapons.
He expressed optimism that since the state Commissioner for Information had visited station, he would adequately brief the governor on the level of damage wrought on the facilities.

The Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State Council, Comrade Amos Etuk, condemned the attack on NTA.

He advised the public not to see media organisations as enemies of the people.
According to him, they should rather be seen as the voice of the people and machineries of development.

Etuk said the aggression against NTA was unnecessary and expressed the hope that the culprits would be brought to book.

However, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Odiko Macdon, described the incident as “unfortunate.”
The PPRO decried what he called the non-compliant attitude of the motorcycle operators since the ban was announced.

He warned motorcycle operators to carry out their transport operations within the confines of the free areas and avoid straying into the restricted zones as directed by government.
Macdon also announced the re-imposition of the ban on motorcycle operations between 6a.m. and 6p.m. in Eket Local Government Area following the resurgence of violent crimes in the area.

He said over 20 hoodlums had been arrested while two pistols, 11 live ammunition and five locally-made guns were recovered from them.
The PPRO said the suspects would be arraigned after the completion of investigations.

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