The national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), yesterday, categorically condemned the persistent harassment and intimidation of journalists and media practitioners in Ebonyi State by Governor David Umahi.
Umahi yesterday barred correspondents of The Sun and Vanguard newspapers in the state, Mr. Chijioke Agwu and Mr. Peter Okutu respectively, from entering the Ebonyi State Government House or any other government facilities.
Umahi, who made the declaration in a statewide live broadcast aired on the state’s television and radio stations, said the ban is for life
The union, in a statement by its National Secretary, Shuaibu Usman Leman, noted with regret that the Ebonyi governor has become notorious for his penchant for attacking, intimidating and harassing journalists.
It wondered why the governor was so desperate to suppress press freedom in a constitutional democracy.
The NUJ further urged Umahi to tread with caution, warning that he would be held responsible should anything happen to any journalist in Ebonyi.
The statement reads: “The NUJ National Secretariat condemns the continuous desperate action of Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State to destroy journalists and journalism in his state. The most recent development in which Governor Umahi was instigating attacks against journalists in the state is frightening to the union as it signals clearly that such attacks on the media are not going to abate any soon.
“We regret to note that Governor Umahi is ingloriously attaining notoriety in his continuous harassment, detentions and insults on journalists who dare to report what he feels are against the interest of his government.
“As professionals whose responsibility is to monitor governance and hold government accountable to the masses, journalists now live in perpetual fear of being arrested by security operatives or attacked by faceless assailants without any just cause in Ebonyi State.
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“The NUJ has repeatedly cautioned against such acts of impunity and stressed that it is worth noting that press freedom is key to achieving credible democracy and this freedom includes the right to seek and receive information from all available sources to enable formulation of proper opinions to whomsoever one desires and to do so through whichever means it is feasible to communicate. Such attacks we believe are meant to curtail such freedoms.
“In the light of these unabated attacks and intimidation of journalists, we call once more on Governor Umahi to tread with caution because the Union will hold him personally responsible for any untoward action on journalists in Ebonyi State.”
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