Ebonyi Media Ban: NGIJ Urges NUJ, NGE to Investigate Crisis
The Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalists (NGIJ) has urged the Nigerian Union Journalists (NUJ) and the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) to investigate the ban of two journalists by Ebonyi state governor, Dave Umahi.
A statement issued on behalf of NGIJ by Mr Israel Bolaji, the Vice President, Information and Strategy said that stakeholders should intervene and resolve the imbroglio.
Bolaji called for the investigation of allegations of deliberate peddling of falsehood and creation of public panic leveled against Ebonyi State correspondents of the Sun newspaper, Chijioke Agwu, and the Vanguard Newspaper, Peter Okutu, by Umahi.
Gov. Umahi had banned the two correspondents, from entering government house and government facilities in the State for life during a live broadcast on the State’s Radio and Television stations.
The broadcast followed the arrest and release of both journalists in separate instances within a week by the state authorities.
The governor who had expressed disappointment with the state NUJ officials said that Ebonyi people were very angry with the press.
Umahi also warned he won’t be able to control his people, or know when they will unleash mayhem on the journalists if they continued to create panic in the State.
The NGIJ counselled that, ‘much as the role of Journalists as partners and critical stakeholders in nation building is sacrosanct, the profession expects every practitioner to be responsible’.
“We as well encourage that journalists be free to carry out their duties without fear or hindrance, anywhere within the nation.
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as many other international Charters guarantee that.
“The State government needs the media to continue to act as watchdog and sensitise the public. That must be continuously done with the highest level of integrity, professionalism and fairness.”
Bolaji, however, said that established, persistent publication of falsehood, inaccuracies and misleading information is criminal and totally frowned upon by the NGIJ.
“Such has no place in professional journalism’’.
He said the assertion of the governor to withdraw the allowance of the leadership of the NUJ in his state for failure to call the boys to order is of great ethical concern and must be investigated.
The NGIJ noted with great concern, the “peace meeting” between the Ebonyi Correspondents’ Chapel and the State Commissioner for Information, where the NUJ pledged to practice “developmental Journalism”.
“The Guild is of the opinion that the meeting should not in any case have been facilitated without the leadership of national NUJ and the NGE.
“We call on our highly respected veterans and officials of the media bodies to establish the underlying issues.
“They should resolve the issues amicably and ensure that Ebonyi State, and indeed, the entire nation, remain safe for all journalists to contribute their quota to national development’’.