Abuja Robbers Ambushed Journalists, Steal Phones, Cameras, Victim Run Over

As many as four journalists tasked with covering the All Progressives Congress presidential primary have lost their phones and cameras to suspected thieves and pickpockets in Eagle Square in Abuja.

While some of the thugs disguised themselves as party supporters to carry out the deed, others ambushed and charged their victims outside the convention venue.

The incident occurred on Tuesday, the same day security officers fired tear gas canisters to disperse journalists on duty.

PUNCH Metro learned that the editor of Weekly MP3, McDonald Azuju, was one of the victims.

Azuju was allegedly assaulted and robbed of his phone as he waited in one of the long lines outside the convention grounds.

He said: “It is unimaginable that I could come from Lagos to lose my phone to petty thieves in Abuja. Although a DPO assured me that he would help get it back. But I doubt it. My only consolation is not to let the culprit escape unpunished.

The teenager who picked up the phone reportedly said he threw it at a member of his union, whom he could not remember.

Besides Azuju, a foreign journalist was also assaulted while on duty at the convention.

He reportedly lost his bag in the middle of a stampede when police fired tear gas to control the crowd.

According to him, the bag contained his personal effects, including a digital camera and an iPad.

Our correspondent has learned that security agents arrested three suspected phone thieves after attacking another journalist.

The well-dressed boys, who joined the queues of delegates, would have taken advantage of the commotion at the door of the Place de l’Aigle to snatch the handset from the journalist’s pocket.

The reporter sounded the alarm, which caught the attention of security guards who rushed to the scene.

After the suspects were searched, the missing phone was not found on them.

However, an officer, who saw the assailants throw something under a stationary security vehicle, recovered the phone from where it was hidden.

A correspondent with daily asset, Adams Samuel, who has just been released from hospital, said he was hit by a car as he fled from robbers armed with machetes.

He said, “I left the APC office to cover the convention at Eagle Square. When I got off, I couldn’t find my way. So I went to Lagos House to meet some of my colleagues who were already there. That was when the thugs surrounded me. I didn’t even know they were close.

“As I was trying to quickly put my phone in my pocket, they pounced on me with machetes. So, I did a mental calculation and concluded that my best option was to cross the main road with vehicles in both lanes.

Samuel, as he tried to outrun the attackers, was hit by a car, as the gang swooped down on him and took away his phone and other valuables.

Supporters reportedly took him to hospital.

“I woke up in Asokoro hospital and kept wondering how I got there. My camera got smashed and they took my phone. cost 250,000 naira I don’t even know how to go about getting another one,” he lamented.

Federal Capital Territory Police public relations officer Josephine Adeh did not respond to her calls, which rang out.

She had also not yet responded to a text message from our correspondent at the time of going to press.

The APC convention is the second major political campaign where journalists would be exposed to police brutality and theft this year.

Police had previously arrested 10 suspected pickpockets at a special convention organized by the People’s Democratic Party at the National Stadium on May 28.

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