Sun Newspaper and Vanguard Newspaper with their Correspondents Chikoke Agwu and Peter Okutu has been banned from entering the government house of Ebonyi State or any government facility in the state.
Agwu is a correspondent of The Sun Newspaper while Okutu works for Vanguard.
Speaking during a live broadcast on Wednesday, Umahi said the ban is for life. He alleged that the two journalists were fond of writing bad reports about the state.
The governor said he was displeased with the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) “for failing to discipline their members”, adding that as punishment, he would seize their allowances for two months.
He said people of the state are “very angry” with the press, saying he would be unable to control them when they decide to “unleash mayhem on journalists if they continue to create panic in the state”.
“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,” Umahi said.
“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.”
Governor Umahi Reverses Ban On Sun, Vanguard Newspapers Reporters
Ebonyi Governor David Umahi has reversed his ban on two State House Correspondents, those of The Sun and Vanguard newspapers, Chijioke Agwu, Peter Okutu, respectively, from the state’s Government House.
A press statement issued by the Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr Francis Nweze, stated that,
“The governor never ordered a ban on any journalist from attending state functions.”
The document explained that the two journalists were never embarrassed, intimidated, or harassed to the knowledge of the Governor in any government event as alleged and that the governor never ordered for such.
“That the governor, Engr. David Umahi, FNSE, FNATE had on 15th and 22nd April 2020 called on the attention of the state NUJ Chapter, Comr. Tony Nwizi and advised him and his executive members to admonish members of the union in the state to ensure they make their findings correctly and avoid unverified and false reports as it doesn’t help in the progress and building of our country, Nigeria and also capable of causing panic in Ebonyi state”.
It added that “having made the above clarifications; I, therefore, call on the general public, NUJ and others concerned to discountenance with the false reports, videos and audio as they are either a figment of the bearers imagination which they brought to bear or a deliberate attempt geared towards smearing the hard-earned good reputation and good media relationship of the governor.
“Report Accurately, Stop Causing Panic In Ebonyi With Fake News.”
He said that their attention was drawn to the news and a purportedly doctored audio and video making the rounds on Social and Print Media alleging that the governor banned Chijioke Agwu and Peter Okutu of Daily Sun Newspapers and Vanguard Newspaper respectively for life for publishing false reports.
“There were false reports from Chijioke Agwu of Daily Sun who reported that Lassa fever is killing Ebonyians in Droves on Tuesday, 14th April 2020, and Peter Okutu who reported that the Nigerian Military killed 20 Ebonyians just last weekend on 21st April 2020.
“That the above two reports all raised alarm and caused panic in the midst of the fight against COVID-19. No case of confirmed death caused by Lassa fever has been recorded in recent times in Ebonyi state neither was there any killing by the Nigerian Military last weekend in Ebonyi. The reports were all ill-conceived and have no truth in them.
Recall that the media had been awash with condemnations of reported ban slammed on the journalists by the Governor during a statewide radio/television broadcast on Wednesday.