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I can never undermine a journalist, I believe in freedom of the press—Tony Nwulu
A FORMER member of House of Representatives, Tony Nwulu who has been at the centre of a threat allegation involving the publisher of Orderpaper, Oke Epia, says he has a lot of respect for journalism as a profession and cannot undermine a journalist.
“I have a lot of respect for journalists and the media as the fourth estate of our democracy, especially in the face of the risk that they undertake on a daily basis to keep us informed,” Nwulu said in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday and made available to The ICIR.
“I say this with a special tribute to the late Precious Owolabi, a corper who served as a correspondent with Channels TV but was shot dead while on duty.”
On Tuesday, the Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom issued a statement condemning the attack and harassment of one of its members, Order Paper, by Nwulu.
But in his statement titled, “Epia is a politician hiding under journalism to defame me,” the former lawmaker who sponsored the ‘Not –too-young-to-run bill’ in the 8th National Assembly, said the bill enjoyed the greatest media support because of the tireless efforts of journalists ‘who supported me.’
Reacting to the allegation that he was using the police to persecute the publisher of Orderpaper, he said Epia ‘is not a journalist but a political hatchet man simply doing the bidding of his sponsors under the umbrella of the press.’
He said he reported the matter to the police because of the weight of the allegations made against him.
“I am the one who went to the Police. I did this to exercise my constitutional rights as someone who has been defamed under the guise of “journalism”.
According to him, the publisher of Orderpaper has been whipping up sentiments, hiding under the false allusion that he is a journalist and tagging media houses both locally and abroad.
“But the truth is, he is not a journalist. He is a politician that has held political office as the Chief Press Secretary to Emeka Ihedioha, the incumbent governor and my rival during the last governorship elections in Imo State,” said Nwulu, who also contested the governorship election in Imo State in February under the United Progressive Party (UPP).
He also denied allegation of threats to the journalist, saying “I am aware Epia has equally alleged that I have issued threats to his life.”
“Nothing could be further from the truth and I challenge him to produce any evidence of such threats. These are barefaced lies calculated to court public sentiments.”
On the allegations that money meant for the constituency projects was missing, Nwulu said the allegations were unsubstantiated, stating that “no responsible media house anywhere in the world should use words like “missing funds” or “tens of millions” without any shred of evidence to back up such claims.”
“It is against the tenets of professional media practice just as it is a common principle of law that he who alleges must prove.”
He expressed optimism that the law would take its course and the truth is allowed to prevail at the end of the investigation into all the allegations by the police.
“I also hope that this will serve as an incident that enriches broad conversations around the professional ethics that guide the practice of real journalism.”