By Eric Elezuo
Pride, the say, goes before a fall. And this must be the situation Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, had fallen into when he bragged he could do without the press, and followed it with the sacking of two journalists from the Government House in Abakiliki for life. The correspondents were of Chijioke Agwu of The Sun newspaper, , and Peter Okutu of the Vanguard newspaper. They were banned from entering the Government House or any government facility in the state.
Given the seriousness of the matter, Umahi had to let loose his frustration via a statewide live broadcast aired on the State’s broadcast stations. He said he was displeased with the leadership of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), for failing to discipline their members.
The governor had ordered the arrest of Agwu over a report he did on the Lassa Fever outbreak in the state in an effort that smacks of draconian.
Three days later, Okutu was arrested on the orders of Ohaukwu LGA Chairman, Clement Odah, over a report he did on the alleged military invasion of Umuogodoakpu-Ngbo community in the council area.
The governor categorically said the safety of journalists in the state could no longer be guaranteed by him, and added that the ‘people’ were angry with the journalists and might begin to unleash mayhem on them if they continue to cause panic in the state. He then made his alter ego statement, saying, “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.”
Mr governor further lashed out at the leadership of the NUJ, and threatened reprisals against them: “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 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.
Obviously, Umahi, in all his exposure, did not understand the import of his statements, and how misleading it could be to the ordinary citizen of Ebonyi State. The statements were capable of creating dissension and causing unnecessary crisis and upheavals in the state. He was practically setting the people against the journalists. And of course, he can’t claim ignorance of that fact.
Then the condemnations rose, from more quarters than one. Among those that frowned at Umahi’s outburst was the International Press Council (IPC). The outfit described the government as \fast becoming notorious for its serial violation of the rights of journalists.’
But like a twist of funny fate, the governor made a sharp u-turn, pleading with journalists to put behind them everything that has gone wrong.
“I have directed that the unfortunate incident with the press was not intentional but I am asking everybody to disregard what has happened. Because we are all partners in progress, let us work together. But I will advise that you please cross-check information…
“I want to invite the press for partnership and also ask them to please help build the state. Nobody said you should do preferential reporting, nobody said you should not report the truth because our state is peculiar. Everybody has forgotten what happened. Let’s work together.”
Apologies accepted Mr. Governor, but like the bible book of the Christians say, ‘out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh’ as a result, the koboko governor needs to be closely watched knowing very well that old habits die hard.
Akwa Ibom PDP Chairman, Udo Ekpenyong, Dies
The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State, Udo Ekpenyong, is dead.
Mr Ekpenyong died on Monday in Uyo, an official of the Akwa Ibom government who did not want his name mentioned, told PREMIUM TIMES, Tuesday morning.
The official said the chairman died of COVID-19.
Late Mr Ekpenyong, before his election as the state PDP chairman last year was the commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in the state. He was known to be a strong ally of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Akwa Ibom State lost two other prominent figures recently, a former Chief of Air Staff, Nsikak Edouk who died of renal failure, and a former military governor of the state, Idongesit Nkanga who died of COVID-19.
Lagos Police Hail Igboelerin Youths for Resisting Robbery Attack
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, has commended youths of Igboelerin community for their bravery in resisting an arms robbery attack and recovering dangerous weapons in the bargain.
According to a statement signed by the command’s PPRO, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the criminals invaded the community at about 11:30pm on Sunday, but were dislodged by the daring youths.
“On 17th January 2021, at about 11.30pm, the youths of Igboelerin community in Lagos State resisted a robbery attack on the community when they dislodged some suspected armed robbers that wanted to rob the community.
“The suspected armed robbers came on 2 unregistered bikes with the intention of attacking their targets before they were repelled by the youths who have been involved in the community policing strategies of the command. One unregistered operational bike and one locally made pistol with a life cartridge were recovered from them.
“The Commissioner of Police Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, while commending the youths of the area, has ordered for the manhunt and arrest of the fleeing armed robbers. He encouraged Lagosians to embrace the idea of community-based policing which has paid off in many areas of the state,” the statement read.
Policeman Prostrates, Begs After Threatening Panel Member in Ogun
There was disquiet at the Ogun State Judicial Panel of Investigation Against Police Brutality when a policeman, Sergeant Adeleke Olalekan, allegedly threatened members of the panel.
The panel, which sat at the Magistrate Court 1, Isabo, Abeokuta, on Monday, was cross-examining the Officer in-Charge of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, CSP Gbenga Megbope.
Olalekan had accompanied his boss, Megbope, who was a respondent in a case of brutality against some people in the state.
Olalekan was, however, allegedly caught pointing at the panel members in a manner suggestive of threats.
The Chairman of the panel, Justice Solomon Olugbemi, called him out and booked him for punishment as stipulated under the commission of inquiry law.
While reading out the law against the policeman’s action, the chairman said, “Any act of disrespect, insult or threat to the commissioners or any panel members while sitting in commission or any act of disrespect, insult or threat to a commissioner or panel members at any other time or place on account of his proceedings in his capacity as a commissioner or panel member shall be deemed to be an act of contempt within the meaning of this law under Section 16 of the same law.”
Olugbemi noted that the sergeant ought to be recommended for trial at a magistrate’s court.
But Olalekan, while being questioned, prostrated and pleaded for forgiveness.
The panel pardoned him, while the chairman warned against disrespect for the panel.