The National Secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists has condemned what it calls “the continuous desperate action of Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State to destroy Journalists and Journalism in his state.
According to the umbrella body of Nigerian Journalists, in a statement by its National Secretary, Shuaibu Usman Leman, “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.
He said: “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.
“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.
“It must also be noted that the purported ban placed on two journalists in the state from visiting the Government House or any government facility in Ebonyi State is a joke taken too far by the governor since these facilities are public and not private property. It should be noted that neither the Governor nor any government official can determine media content or stop journalists from holding government accountable.
“The Governor may wish to know also that both the Union and respective media organisations have their own procedures of disciplining journalists who step out of bounds but certainly we can not keep quiet in the face of this brazen attempt to muzzle press freedom which is a critical ingredient for democratic governance.