Enyeribe Ejiogu and Henry Okonkwo
The Nigeria League of Veteran Journalists, NALVEJ, has condemned what it described as the “highhandedness” of Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi against media organizations operating in the state.
The condemnation by NALVEJ came in the wake of similar rebukes by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), SERAP, CASER and many other human rights advocacy and professional groups, which deplored the action of Governor Umahi, who last week announced that he had banned two journalists from The Sun and Vanguard newspapers from entering any government facility in the state for life, over news reports that were allegedly unfavorable to his administration .
In a statement in Abuja, the President of NALVEJ, Chief Oliver Okpala, expressed the utter disappointment of the group with the governor’s attempt to gag the press.
The statement read in part: “We the elders in the media profession know the rules of the game and we are well aware of the rights of journalists. We will therefore not allow Umahi to trample on the inalienable rights of the Nigerian journalists for his selfish reasons.
“Even under the military regimes, under which many of us veteran journalists practiced, the soldiers respected us and always tried to befriend us. So there was largely cordial relationship between leaders of the country and journalists.
But because Umahi is a natural dictator, he does not value cordial relationship with journalists and even individuals. A governor is supposed to be an epitome of decorum, humility and trust worthiness.”
Continuing, NALVEJ said: “Umahi has forgotten that it was the media that brought him into limelight when he was an unknown engineer in Lagos. What special quality did he posses to have become a governor, apart from being an engineer and a graduate, if not for the media? The Nigerian media, the Federal Government and other well meaning organizations should rise against this sadistic move.”
In a related development, former Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Monday Onyekachi Ubani, lampooned the Umahi for directing officials of the state to flog residents caught in public without wearing facemasks, notwithstanding their social status.