*says action aimed at muzzling media
By NWOGHA NDUBUISI ANDY, Abakaliki
The National umbrella body of the fourth estate of the realm, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) on Wednesday condemned the continous arrest and detention of media practitioners by Ebonyi State Governor, Engineer David Umahi.
In a statement made available by the national union of the body, signed by its secretay, Shuaibu Usman Leman, stated that the governor has become notorious in his continous detention harassment, detentions and insults on journalists who dare to report what he considers is against interest of his government.
The statement hinted that journalists in the state now live in perpertual fear as no one knows who will be arrested or attacked by faceless assailants and called him to order.
It cautioned the governor to retrace his steps as they said the actions smacked of impunity and would hold Umahi responsible on further attacks toward it’s member,.
It noted that as professionals whose primary responsibility is saddled with monitoring governance and hold Government accountable before the masses have now lived in fear of attack.
The statement reads in full,
“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.
“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.
*Shuaibu Usman Leman*