Gov Umahi must apologize for Affront on Media – Journalists
Nigerian South-East Journalists under the aegis of Izunwanne have demanded an apology from Ebonyi state Governor, David Umahi for affront on media.
This is coming after two Journalists Chijioke Agwu (Sun newspaper) and Peter Okutu (Vanguard newspapers) were reportedly banned for life from the coverage of events and Press briefings in the state.
However, Izunwanne under the leadership of Sir Abuchi Anueyiagu and the secretary, Elder Ngwoke Ngwoke have released a statement condemning the ban and arrest of their members.
The statement reads:
“IZUNWANNE totally rejects as unacceptable the governor’s action and condemns it in very strong terms, as it is considered a despotic, despicable and tyrannical behaviour, typical of an incurable intemperate public office holder. We urge him to retrace his steps, which are against social justice, democracy and rule of law. If he had considered the reports in bad taste he should have availed himself of the lawful means or measures of seeking redress through the courts and the Nigerian Press Council, instead of resorting to self help, intimidation, crudity, cruelty, barbarism and wicked tactics that portray himself as an imperial lord who is intolerant and not accountable to anybody or authority.
“The governor reportedly ordered the arrest, detention and prosecution of two journalists in his state, one Chijioke Agwu and another, Peter Okutu, Ebonyi State correspondents of the Sun and Vanguard newspapers respectively.
“The governor did not stop there. He went ahead to ban them for life from operating in the State.
“In a very unprecedented move, the governor, reportedly stated that the people of Ebonyi were aggrieved with the press, adding that he might not be able to restrain the people when they decide to unleash mayhem on journalists who are in the bad books of his administration.
“IZUNWANNE is alarmed and scandalized that such crude and inciting actions are coming from a governor elected and swore to an oath of office to protect the lives and property of the people living in the state, according to provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to act accordingly.
“As a responsible and independent body committed to the best traditions of the watch dog role of the media, and to the promotion of the common good of the Southeast geo-political zone of Nigeria, as well in exercise of the duty imposed on us by Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), IZUNWANNE has tried to establish the facts in the issues in contention, and we are convinced that the two journalists in question did not commit any offence in the particular reports to warrant such reprehensible behaviour of the governor against them.
“The reports, which the governor wrongly considered vexatious and unacceptable rather eloquently speak for themselves as having met the professional standards in news reporting and did not write fiction but reported facts and balanced stories.
“We cannot imagine how at this age and time, an elected governor would make a broadcast, threatening journalists, in the course of performing their lawful duties, with life ban and imprisonment.
“Without any equivocation it was an unnecessary overreaction, especially by a person holding such responsible and exalted public office of state governor.
“Though the governor and his government have in a subsequent action that was seen as an afterthought and a volte face following the widespread condemnation of his action tried to launder his image by attempting to deny ordering the arrest, detention, prosecution and banishing of the two journalists, claiming a distortion of his broadcast, IZUNWANNE finds it very difficult to believe the denials, given the obvious clarity of the broadcast.
“We consider the denial a laughable weak defence that cannot stand, as we could not find anything in the particular reports that suggest a design to undermine the government and people of Ebonyi State as the governor alleged. The reports passed the journalistic tests of balance and objectivity in which all sides were reflected or represented.
“Governor Umahi has no doubt by his irrational action betrayed the oath of office he took. He must therefore be called to order to seek the path of civility, honour and rectitude in the conduct of government business.
“And on the other hand, we call on journalists to at all times in the course of performing their duties operate within the ambits of the law and abide by the rules and ethics/tenets of their practice and to avoid any act of shame or compromise capable of putting them to public ridicule or odium and bringing down the image of journalism, no matter the lure because maintenance of integrity and honour matter a lot in life.”