Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has rebuked the activities of pressmen in the state, alleging that they are trying to create fear in the hearts of residents by dishing out untrue facts.
The governor condemned reports of journalist in the state, reached out to the Nigerian Union of Journalist, NUJ, blamed the association for not regulating its members.
Naija News understands that governor Umahi on Wednesday, April 22 forbids a reporter with ‘The Sun Newspaper’, Chijioke Agwu, and also Peter Okutu, a reporter with the ‘Vanguard Newspaper’, from having access to the state government house and any related office of the government in the state.
The announced the banning of the duo on a live broadcast, stating that residents in the state are not happy with journalist and soon may want to launch an attack on them.
It was reported that Umahi had earlier arrested Agwu over a recent article he published as regards the outbreak of Lassa Fever in Ebonyi state.
Not long after the arrest of Agwu, Okutu also got arrested by the Ohaukwu Local Government Chairman, Clement Odah, for his report on the alleged invasion of Umuogodoakpu-Ngbo, a community in the council area by military men.
However, the two were later released following condemnations on the incident.
Speaking about the activities of the journalist in Ebonyi State, Umahi said: “I want to say that I am very displeased with the president and leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists and I am going to seize their allowances for two months because they have failed to discipline their members.”
“Ebonyi State is no longer a dumping ground. Only the other day, Chijioke Agwu (referring to The Sun Correspondent) wrote that Lassa Fever is killing Ebonyi people in droves and (a) few days back, Mr. Peter Okutu of Vanguard did his own.”
“Okutu is fond of degrading Ebonyi State, and I don’t know why my officials have allowed him to continue to do that, because he is not from Ebonyi State. I want to ban him for life with Chijioke Agwu. I don’t want to see them anywhere in any Government facility.”
“We are not begging you to give us good reports, because the only person that gives good or bad reports is God. We are all accountable to him. If you think that Ebonyi State is a dumping ground, try it again,” Umahi warns.
He added, “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.”
“I want you to write it that way, that I said, press in Ebonyi is trying to create another COVID that is more dangerous and that is to create panic in our people. The other one wrote that cholera has killed 20 people in Ohaukwu. If you try it again, I may not know when Ebonyians may react. This is important for the NUJ to know.”
“If you are an Ebonyi man or live in Ebonyi and you don’t feel our pains, it is a shame. Maybe, the press people claim they are untouchable. I have reported to the National President of NUJ, I have reported to (the) State leadership of NUJ and I have reported to the public. Now, the die is cast. May God save us, in this time,” said Umahi.
On the contrary, organisations have condemned the arrests and threats by the Ebonyi State governor.
On his part, the Executive Director of The International Press Centre (IPC) Lanre Arogundade, condemned the action taken by the state government, describing it as the targeting of pressmen as executive lawlessness.
He said: “Arresting a journalist and getting him detained over a story is not an acceptable means of seeking such redress and the act of Mr Odah is unacceptable.”
“Coming after a similar arrest and detention of The Sun newspaper reporter, Agwu Chijioke, on the orders of the State Governor, David Umahi, who also featured prominently in the ordeal of Mr. Okutu, IPC is worried that the state government is fast becoming notorious for its serial violation of the rights of journalists.”
Meanwhile, the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, has been warned by the Indigenous People of Biafra against intimidating journalists in the state.
IPOB accused the governor of acting in accordance with the unquestionable actions of the All Progressives Congress-led federal government.