By Ruth Oginyi
The governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Umahi, Tuesday apologised to journalists following the misunderstanding between him and journalists in the state.
Governor Umahi had announced a “life ban” for the state correspondents of the Vanguard and Daily Sun Newspapers, Peter Okutu and Chijioke Agwu, following reports which the governor perceived to be offensive to his administration.
The apology is coming after Correspondents’ Chapel of Ebonyi NUJ in a statement condemned the action of the governor.
The Ebonyi NUJ had in the statement urged its members to stay-away from Government House and all Governor’s activities in protest of the ill-treatment on their colleagues.
Peter and Chijioke were arrested, interrogated and released by the police in the State after intervention from the National President of NUJ, Comrade Chris Isiguzio and the State Council chairman, Comrade Tony Nwizi.
The governor’s action, however, sparked condemnations from the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), Civil Liberty Organizations (CLOs), SERAP, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), International Press Council (IPC), some notable legal practitioners and Media Right Agenda (MRA) among others.
But Umahi in state-wide broadcast on Tuesday, apologized to journalists in the state and urged them to down tools and join him in building the State, describing them as partners in progress.
According to him, “In my earlier speeches, I had directed that the unfortunate incident with the press was not intentional but I think we are all here to build the state and so I am asking everybody to disregard whatever that happened and see press as our partners in progress and let us work together.
“We advise them to please crosscheck information because I hear more than you hear. There are certain write-ups that people are sad about and that is why I said please, let everybody down tools. As a father, you beat a child with one hand, you bring him back with the other hand.
“I believe strongly that if anybody intentionally wants to pull you down, he can’t pull you down standing. He will also go down with you and he may even rise ahead of you and the single way to succeed in life is to be happy with success.
“So, I want to invite the press on partnership and also ask them to please help us to build the state. Nobody said you should not report the truth but don’t report false against us because we know our people as a State is peculiar, little thing will trigger off a lot of tension.”