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Group condemns Gov Umahi for banning journalists from govt house

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The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has criticised David Umahi, Governor of Ebonyi State for placing a life ban on two journalists from the Government House.

Umahi has  recently come under criticisms for banning correspondents of The Sun newspaper, Chijioke Agwu, and the Vanguard Newspaper, Peter Okutu, from the State House or any government facility in the state.

In a statement signed by the CWPPF, the group condemned the governor’s continuous war against the media houses and journalists, describing it as  “blatant intimidation and harassment.”

“CWPPF condemns the illegal banning of the correspondents of The Sun newspaper, Chijioke Agwu, and the Vanguard Newspaper, Peter Okutu, from entering Government House and Government facilities in the State for life. This decision by the governor is absurd considering that the government house is not private property,” the statement read in part.

The group further urged the governor to respect the Constitution that guarantees the rights of journalists to gather and disseminate information in public interest and to hold the government accountable.

It added that the life threats placed on the banned journalists has been noted, and if anything happens to either Agwu or Okutu, the governor would be held responsible.

Umahi had in a state-wide broadcast on Wednesday, expressed displeasure over the activities of the journalists for doing their job.

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The governor, while addressing residents of the state in the broadcast also threatened to seize the allowance of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) leadership, saying they failed to discipline their members.

“If you think you have the pen, we have the koboko,” the governor said.

He added, “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.”

Okutu was declared persona non grata over a report he did on the alleged military invasion of Umuogodoakpu-Ngbo community in the council area, while Agwu was declared  unwelcome in the state over a report he did on the Lassa Fever outbreak in the state.

Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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