The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Correpondents’ Chapel, Ebonyi has accused Mr Uchenna Orji, Commissioner of Information of mixing up facts in a meeting he held with members of the chapel on Thursday in his office.
The meeting convened at the instance of the Commissioner was to resolve issues bothering on purported ‘life ban’ of the Sun and Vanguard correspondents in Abakaliki; Messrs Chijioke Agwu and Peter Okutu respectively.
But, the chapel in a statement signed by Mr Sampson Nwafor, chapel’s secretary after its meeting noted that the commissioner misrepresented the chapel on its position in a statement he issued on the outcome of the meeting.
The group frowned at the statement allegedly credited to Mr Jacob Ogodo, state chairman of the correspondents’ chapel purportedly issued during a joint press briefing at the end of the meeting.
The statement noted that there was no joint press briefing where the chairman allegedly ‘eulogised’ the governor for banning two of its members.
Part of the statement reads: “That the meeting was held at the instance of the Commissioner to appease members of the Chapel.
“That there was never a joint press briefing at the end of the meeting between the Correspondents’ Chapel and the Commissioner.
“That the purported joint press briefing where our Chairman, Mr. Jacob Ogodo, was quoted to have eulogized the governor for arresting our members, was a ruse and a calculated attempt to smear the image of the Chapel, its leadership and confuse the general public.
“That rather than focusing on the issues raised, especially as it concerns lifting of the ‘life ban’ on two of our members of Sun and Vanguard Newspapers, and ways to ensure that safety practioners, the Commissioner embarked on pernicious propaganda to save his job and drag members of the Chapel to the mud.
“We make bold to state that this is an act of betrayal and wish to demand that the Commissioner retracts the statement with apologies within 48 hours.
“We equally condemn the illegal arrest, intimidation, harrassment and ‘life ban’ imposed on two of our members and the inciteful statement against Journalists in the state.
“We commend the National leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ); Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), International Press Council (IPC), Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP).
“We also applaud the Civil Liberty Organisations (CLOs), and host of other non-state actors for standing by Journalists in Ebonyi in this trying moment.
“We wish to assure them of our commitment to protect the spirit and letter of our noble profession as enshrined in section 22 and 35 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.”
Recall that the embatteled Journalists were allegedly banned for life by the state government in a statewide broadcast by Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi on Wednesday, April 22.