The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has called out the governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, over alleged harassment and intimidation of journalists in the state.
Umahi had during a live broadcast on Wednesday, banned Chikoke Agwu and Peter Okutu – correspondents of The Sun and Vanguard newspapers respectively, alleging they were fond of writing bad reports about the state.
He had consequently expressed his displeasure with the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) “for failing to discipline their members”.
The governor had said: “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.
“We are not begging you to give us good reports, because the only person that gives good or bad reports is God. If you think that Ebonyi state is a dumping ground, try it again.
“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.
“I want you to write it that way, that I said, press in Ebonyi is trying to create another COVID that is more dangerous and that is to create panic in our people.
“The other one wrote that cholera has killed 20 people in Ohaukwu. If you try it again, I may not know when Ebonyians may react. This is important for the NUJ to know.
“If you are an Ebonyi man or live in Ebonyi and you don’t feel our pains, it is a shame on you. Maybe, the press people claim they are untouchable. I have reported to the National President of NUJ, I have reported to the State leadership of NUJ and I have reported to the public. Now, the die is cast. May God save us, at this time.”
But reacting to the development in a statement issued by its media and publicity secretary, Emma Powerful, the pro-Biafra group asked the governor to dissipate his efforts into bringing about good governance in the state.
The group wondered why the governor has decided to go after journalists who are merely carrying out their duties, and not herdsmen and other terror groups that have become threats to residents of the state.
The statement read: “Dave Umahi has not stopped harassing and giving threatening messages to journalists in Ebonyi State over their insistence in exposing (anomalies) through their factual reports.
“There is ongoing genocides and unprovoked attacks against hapless Ebonyi people by Fulani herdsmen, terrorists, and security operatives in some instances. Governor Dave Umahi and his foot soldiers in Abakiliki Government House have never hidden their sympathy for the Fulani cabals behind the mass atrocities in Biafra land including Ebonyi State just because of his selfish political ambition.
“In the last four days, Governor Dave Umahi has ordered the arrest of Sun Newspaper’s correspondent in Ebonyi state, Mr Chijioke Agwu. Not done yet, on Tuesday 21st of April 2020, the LGA chairman in Ebonyi State who was acting on the instructions of Dave Umahi ordered the arrest of Mr Peter Okutu, the Vanguard newspaper’s correspondent in the state.
“These journalists committed no crime other than exposing the atrocities of terrorists and security agents against innocent Biafrans in Ebonyi State.
“We, therefore, want to put the world on notice how this saboteur governor is conniving with the enemies to suppress his own people. We equally want to remind Gov. Umahi that we have been watching and monitoring his actions. His recent antics to arrest innocent journalists for reporting the truth will not go unpunished.
“It remains a puzzle that Governor Dave Umahi will turn a blind eye during Fulani herdsmen invasion as well as soldiers’ and police killing of innocent people in his state only to resort to intimidation and arrest of innocent journalists for reporting the truth.
“We advise Dave Umahi and his agents to retrace their steps because on the day of reckoning, their slave masters in Abuja and Sokoto cannot save them.
“Governor Dave Umahi must stop his infamous clamp down on innocent journalists because they committed no crime against his government. It is the right and duty of journalists as the watchdog of society, to expose atrocities of both criminals and state actors for the good of all.”
In the same vein, IPOB call on Umahi to stop the clampdown on innocent Biafrans in the state.
“IPOB will no longer tolerate intimidation, humiliation and arrest of innocent Biafrans including journalists and other residents for no just cause.”