By NWOGHA NDUBUISI ANDY, Abakaliki
In response to speculatioun making the wave that Mr Jacob Ogodo, Government House Correspondent’s Chapel’s Chairman, was quoted to have said during a joint press briefing with Hon. Uchenna Orji, eulogized Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, for the arrest of members and life ban of Sun and Vanguard Newspaper Correspondents’ from using public facilities and covering of Government programmes, the said press conference has been described as fake.
In a release made available by the Correspondents Chapel Secretary, Mr. Samson Nwafor, in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, demanded that Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Hon. Uchenna Orji retracts the statement and apologize to members within 48hours for embarking on a propaganda aimed at saving his job while dragging members of the chapel to the mud.
The statement reads in full, “Following our meeting on Thursday, 23rd April, 2020, with the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Mr. Uchenna Orji, on possible means of resolving the ‘life ban’ imposed on two of our members, we hereby make the following clarifications:
1. That the meeting was held at the instance of the Commissioner to appease members of the Chapel.
2. That there was never a joint press briefing at the end of the meeting between the Correspondents’ Chapel and the Commissioner.
3. That 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.
4. That rather than focusing on the issues raised, especially as it concerns lifting of the ‘life ban’ on two of our members,Mr. Chijioke Agwu of The Sun Newspaper and Mr. Peter Okutu of Vanguard Newspaper, and ways to ensure that the lives of Journalists operating in the State are guaranteed, the Commissioner embarked on pernicious propaganda to save his job and drag members of the Chapel to the mud.
5. We make bold to state that this is an act of betrayal and wish to demand that the Commissioner retracts the statement with apologies within 48hours.
6. We equally condemn the illegal arrest, intimidation, harrassment and ‘life ban’ imposed on two of our members, The Sun and the Vanguard Correspondents, and the inciteful statement against Journalists in the State.
7. We commend the National leadership of 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 host of other non-state actors for standing by Journalists in Ebonyi State in this trying moment and wish to assure them of our commitment to protect the spirit and letter of our noble profession as enshrined in section 22 and 35 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
Comrade Nwafor Samson,Secretary, Correspondents’ Chapel of NUJ, Ebonyi State Council.24/4/2020.