Soldiers beat up govt officials, journalists over demolition of shanties

Attempt by officials of the Rivers State Ministry of Lands and Urban Development to demolish illegal structures at the Army Day Primary School at Tombia Street in the Government Reservation Area of Port Harcourt suffered a serious setback on Wednesday as soldiers stoutly opposed the move.

Armed soldiers, who had got wind of the demolition took positions before the arrival of the officials and journalists attached to the office of the Rivers State Governor.

Eyewitnesses said that as soon as the demolition squad and the camera crew from the governor�s office arrived, the soldiers ordered them to leave the precincts of the school within seconds or face their wrath.

While the journalists attempted to take some shots of the soldiers led by one major Adeniran, they swooped on the workers, injuring some and destroying their equipment.

At the end of the attack, four journalists from the state-owned media and some private broadcast outfits were reportedly hospitalised.

Attempts by the Rivers State Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development, Mr. Tele Ikuru, to seek explanations from the soldiers were rebuffed.

Angered by the action of the soldiers, the commissioner immediately reported the development to the Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, who in turn summoned an emergency executive council meeting to deliberate on the matter and take a position.

As at around 3pm on Wednesday, the meeting was still in progress.

Individuals and groups have converted Rivers State primary schools premises for commercial purposes, leaving little or no room for pupils and teachers.

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