‘Life ban’: Journalists boycott Ebonyi Govt activities, blast Umahi, Orji

The Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Ebonyi State, on Friday, issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Commissioner for Information, Uchenna Orji, to apologise for “betrayal”.

They accused him of keeping quiet despite threats, arrests and harassment journalists were facing in the state.

Ebonyi Governor, David Umahi, had banned Chijioke Agwu, a correspondent with Sun Newspaper, and Peter Okutu, a reporter with Vanguard Newspaper, from the Government House and all state buildings.

At an emergency meeting in Abakaliki, NUJ condemned the arrest of its members and announced a boycott of all government activities.

State Secretary, Samson Nwafor, in a communque, lamented that rather than focusing on the issues, especially the ‘life ban’ on Agwu and Okutu, Uchenna Orji “embarked on pernicious propaganda to save his job and drag members of the Chapel to the mud.

“The purported joint press briefing where our Chairman, Mr. Jacob Ogodo, was quoted to have eulogized the Governor for arresting our members, was a ruse and a calculated attempt to smear the image of the Chapel, its leadership and confuse the general public”.

The Chapel described the commissioner’s action as “an act of betrayal and wish to demand that the Commissioner retract the statement with apologies within 48hours”.

They commended the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), International Press Council (IPC), Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP), Civil Liberty Organisations (CLOs), and Nigerians “for standing by Journalists in Ebonyi State in this trying moment.”

Also on Friday, the United States-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) deplored the harassment of Nigerian journalists.

“Journalists in Nigeria must be free to report on topics of public interest, and must not be harassed, detained, and obstructed by local authorities,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator.

On Thursday, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) told Umahi to reverse the ban on the pressmen or face legal action.

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