OMPAN condemns ban of Sun, Vanguard reporters by Ebonyi governor

The Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria (OMPAN) has condemned the ban on two reporters, Chijioke Agwu of Sun Newspaper and Peter Okutu of Vanguard newspaper by the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr David Umahi.

OMPAN in a Statement expressed shock at the development, describing it as unfortunate, particularly at a time when “stakeholders the world over are closing ranks to create a common front, to execute the war against the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic”.

OMPAN therefore called on the governor to lift the ban and retract his statements with respect to the safety of the journalists.

The Statement, signed by its PRO, Ismaila YK read in part;

“What is particularly scary and of great concern, is the governor’s spat during a statewide broadcast, that if “the journalists think they have the pen, he has the koboko”. This arrogance was also on display when he declared, in clear Draconian style, that the people of the state might unleash mayhem on the journalists if they refuse to leave Ebonyi state.

“OMPAN considers the above statement a call to violence against the journalists whose only sin is reporting the true state of affairs in the state. Here then, is why OMPAN wants to state categorically clear, that should anything happen to the two journalists, Governor David Umahi should be ready to take responsibility, or face the wrath of the pen he has so arrogantly and disdainfully dismissed.

“For the sake of peace, especially in this material time, OMPAN calls on Governor Umahi to beat a quick retreat, lift the needless ban and retract his damaging statements with respect to the safety of the journalists without delay.

*The Nigerian Journalists is held to a code of conduct and ethics which if violated, invites sanction(s) commensurate with the transgression(s). However, nowhere was it stated that state governors can usurp the powers of the Nigerian Union of Journalists which is the statutory body responsible for the discipline of erring members, to play judge and jury on issues bothering on the professionalism of journalists.

“The authors of the Nigerian Constitution didn’t make a mistake when they unambiguously spelt out the right of the journalist in section 39 subsection one of the 1999 constitution as amended. And, under no circumstances will OMPAN fold it’s arms and watch governors or other trigger happy Executives continue to trample on the sanctity of the Journalism profession”, it said.

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