A photojournalist with Leadership Newspaper, Mr. Benedict Uwalaka, was on Thursday beaten to a state of coma by no fewer than five attendants of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos, where families had come to claim the bodies of June 3 Dana plane crash victims.
Uwalaka was beaten on the allegation that he had photographs of one of the corpses claimed.
However, Uwalaka, who spoke with journalists after he received treatment at the hospital’s emergency ward, denied taking the pictures of the body.
He said his camera and phone were seized by the attendants.
He said, “I was about to take photograph when two men from the mortuary accosted me and asked ‘where is the picture you have taken?’ They collected my camera alongside other two cameras. They later returned the other two cameras but said they didn’t have my own.
“They started beating me; others joined them and I started bleeding. Yet, one Idowu broke a bottle on my head. They also brought electric shocker to electrocute me but God saved me.”
Uwalaka’s face was covered with blood after no fewer than seven men assaulted him.
Meanwhile, Uwalaka’s friend, Mr. Kola Olasupo of ThisDay, who was one of the witnesses, said he was unjustly manhandled.
He said, “When they came to meet me that I should not take any picture, I asked ‘for what’? They said, “If you make any attempt to do anything there, I will seize your camera.”
“I left the place immediately. As I was going, I saw Benedict Uwalaka coming towards that direction and I told him that they said it was not allowed to take any photograph. To be honest with you, he did not take any photograph rather, he just turned back immediately.
“Suddenly, one Bayo rushed to him and started slapping him from the back and before Uwalaka could know what was going on, he hit him at the back with big iron rod.
“Three people were all over him, pounding on him mercilessly.
“You needed to see blood all over his body, some of Bayo’s men took him inside.
“One Idowu ran and got a bottle and smashed it on his head and that was how Uwalaka fell and lost consciousness for some time.”
Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Lateef Ibirogba, who visited Uwalaka in hospital, promised that his missing camera and phone would be replaced by the government.