With barely two months in office, the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr Gbene Joi Nunieh may be one who bears an iron rod and ready to strike anyone who dares challenge her authority as the events of November 25th will forever remain in the memory of Persons with disability ahead of the commemoration of the Disability day on December 3, 2019.
Speaking with our reporter the President of the disability group in Port Harcourt, Mr Simon Bidei narrated their ordeal on that fateful day on how they had earlier met the former NDDC MD, Dr Akwagaga Enyia before she vacated the office when she promised to carry them along by providing avenues for skill acquisition and an inclusion in the ongoing empowerment among others.
Unfortunately, the promises could not be fulfilled before she was removed from office, which prompted Mr Simon acting on behalf of the disability group to write to the current MD seeking for an audience, a request that was turned down severally. The group then decided to visit the NDDC headquarters on a peaceful demonstration on Monday 25th November 2019 with the sole aim of getting the MDs attention to foster good relations and also know their fate in her regime regarding promises made to them as persons with disability by the commission.
At first, the Police officers attached to the NDDC through their head of security corporated and addressed them as they were asked to delegate a few members who will be taken to meet the iron lady. To their uttermost surprise, the delegates were asked to wait at the passageway; small shelters as they were not allowed to access the main building. While waiting, a group of persons walked past them for a meeting with Nunieh.
“We were not even comfortable. They were keeping us outside while people with normal legs were going up,” he said.
On complaining, the group were asked to exercise a little patience that things were being put in place for them to have an audience with Joi Nunieh whom they security officers said was having a meeting with “generals”.
Despite the rain and the insensitivity by the security officers to their plight, the group who could not stomach being played like a pawn after more than four hours of waiting reiterated their decision to have an audience with the MD by blocking the entrance but this time, they were dished a different pot of soup as one of the Police officers attached to the NDDC fired teargas at them. The sudden assault did not stop at that as others immediately started firing life ammunition on the disabled persons which led to several injuries and one female on wheels sustaining a bullet wound.
Some persons with disability who sustained injuries during the assault
To make matters worse, the Olu-Obasanjo Divisional Police Station which had Jurisdiction over the area swam in and started arresting members of the group. The President was only able to secure their release the following day with the DPO promising to contact the NDDC MD on the issue.
According to the group, Mrs Joi Nunieh turned a blind eye and pretended that she was not aware of any such incident while her boys allegedly have been threatening the President of the group to back down from his agitation.
Calls placed to the NDDC Boss to get her reaction on the story was not answered or returned as at press time. She did not also respond to our SMS.