Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki
The Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Ebonyi State council, has demanded that the governor of the state, Chief David Umahi, should as a matter of urgency guarantee the security of all journalists in the state.
The chapel in a statement on Sunday signed by its secretary, Mr. Samson Nwafor, reminded the governor that on Wednesday ,22 April,2020, said that he could no longer guarantee the security of journalists in the state.
The chapel urged the governor to revisit the statement and retract the dangerous comments to enable newsmen practise their profession without fear of molestations.
The chapel was reacting to a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation in the state, Mr. Uchenna Orji, wherein he said that the governor had reversed the ban placed on two of their members in the state.
The statements reads: “The attention of the Correspondents’ Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ebonyi State, has been drawn to a statement issued by the state Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Mr. Uchenna Orji, on 25th April 2020, where-in he announced that the State Governor, Chief David Nweze Umahi, has lifted the purported ‘life ban’ on two of our members, Mr. Chijioke Agwu of The SUN newspaper and Mr. Peter Okutu of Vanguard newspaper and wish to make the following observations:
“That we commend the Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Engr David Nweze Umahi, for lifting the ‘life ban’ placed on two of our members from entering Government House and other Government facilities.
“That we have noted the assurance of his administration to allow journalists to carry-out their constitutional duties unhindered as enshrined in section 22 of the 1999 constitution, as amended.
“We noted with pride and happiness that the Governor has charged his media managers to now follow “all due process” in seeking redress through the leadership of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the management of media houses, should there be any misgiving on the part of government arising from any publication.
“However, the chapel wishes to remind His Excellency that the statement released by his Commissioner for Information was conspicuously silent on the issue of security of journalists in the State.
“Your Excellency, you may wish to recall that on Wednesday, 22nd, April ,2020, during your Live Broadcast made a declaration that you could no longer guarantee the security of journalists in the state. Your Excellency in broadcast stated as follows: “If you think you have the pen, we have the koboko. Let’s leave the Court alone. Ebonyi people are very angry with the press and let me warn that I won’t be able to control them or know when they unleash mayhem on you, if you continue to write to create panic in the State”.
“While we pledge commitment to partner the government and the people to ensure a better Ebonyi State, we wish to state that we are in deep fear because of the above statement, considering your Excellency’s position as the Chief Security Officer of the state.
“In the same vein, we wish to remind the Honourable Commissioner for Information and State Orientation in the state, Mr. Uchenna Orji, that he is yet to retract the damaging statement he made, published and caused to be aired in Ebonyi Broadcasting Corporation (EBBC), wherein he claimed that the Chairman of the Chapel, Comrade Jacob Ogodo, eulogized the state governor for arresting and ‘banning for life’ two of our members. Sir, you wish to note that the 48 hours aultimatum given to you will expire today.”