Ebonyi state Governor Engr. David Umahi has banned Vanguard and Sun newspapers reporters for life and threatened journalists with koboko or severe punishment in the state.
The two Correspondents of the Sun newspaper, Chijioke Agwu, and the Vanguard Newspaper, Peter Okutu were banned from entering the state Government House and all government facilities in Ebonyi State.
Umahi, who made the declaration on Wednesday in a statewide live broadcast aired in the State’s television and radio stations, said he was displeased with the leadership of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), for failing to discipline their members.
In his words “If the Journalists have the Pen, we have the Koboko”.
“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 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 report, because the only person that gives good or bad report is God. We are all accountable to him. If you think that Ebonyi State is a dumping ground, try it again” Umahi threatened.
“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 on you. May be, the press people claim they are untouchable. I have reported to the National President of NUJ, I have reported to State leadership of NUJ and I have reported to the public. Now, the dye is cast. May God save us, in the course of time.
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It could be recalled that Governor Dave Umahi had on Saturday, ordered the police to detain indefinitely THE SUN Correspondent in the state, Mr Chijioke Agwu, after the Governor reportedly arrested and detained him in the state Government House.
Agwu’s travail is connected to a Lassa Fever disease story he recently authored and which the epidemic has continued to ravage the state, but the statistics grossly underreported.
Just Three 3days after the arrest of THE SUN correspondent, The Police in Ebonyi State yesterday again arrested Vanguard Correspondent, Mr. Peter Okutu, on the orders of a local government chairman. The arrest was over a report Okutu did about military invasion of Umuogodoakpu-Ngbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the state.
Okutu was arrested by armed men of the State Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, at Woodberry Hotel, Abakaliki, on the orders of the Ohaukwu Local Government Council Chairman, Mr. Clement Odah.
Harassment, detention and intimidation of Journalists in Ebonyi State – NUJ React
Before his arrest, the Vanguard reporter, Okutu was invited by the Special Assistant on Media to the Governor, Mr. Francis Nwaze, over the report. The governor’s aide later asked Okutu to meet with Mr. Odah, the Council Chairman, to brief him on the true situation of the incident.
Okutu was later contacted through his mobile phone by Mr. Odah, who asked him to meet him(Odah) at Woodberry Hotel, where he was arrested by waiting security operatives.
Okutu, who had envisaged danger, went with a colleague from another national daily, to see the Council Chairman.
At the hotel, it was gathered that Mr. Odah had queried Okutu, the Vanguard reporter, on the sources of his report and while he was still explaining to him, four SARS operatives emerged from within the hotel premises and took him away in a waiting Hilux van.