Important PRESS STATEMENT*
Abia Media Online Publishers, an umbrella body of Online Media Practitioners in Abia State, has condemned in its entirety, the attack on her member and inhuman treatment meted to Mr Ikokwu Ogbonnaya in the hands of one Iheanacho Udensi, a People’s Democratic Party Councillor, from Amaekpu Item, in Bende LGA of Abia State during the Friday, December 18, 2020, Local Government Election.
In a release issued to newsmen in Umuahia, signed by the Chairman, Comrade Ugochukwu Nwankwo and the Secretary of the Association, Izuchukwu Nwokoma, the Association stated that harassment of Journalists in Abia State has become a recurring decimal, stressing that it will not tolerate such forthwith.
Abia Online Media Publishers wondered why her member, Ikeokwu Ogbonnaya who was monitoring the LG election and interviewing voters awaiting arrival of electoral materials and adhoc staff of Abia State Independent Electoral Commission (ABSIEC) at Amaekpu Item around 1:15 pm, was attacked by Udensi in company of over ten young men.
One wonders why an aspirant who wants and expects a free and fair election will attack journalists.
The Association, demands an apology letter from the bully, where he will apologise to Ikeokwu Ogbonnaya as a person and Abia Online Media Practitioners, Nigeria Union of Journalists, among others.
Narrating his ordeal, Ikeokwu Ogbonnaya, stated that Udensi to whom he made his identify as a Journalist known, by showing his identity card saw him interviewing voters, went on to slap him and take away his reporting equipment including phones, for speaking with a member of another party at the polling area.
However, Ogbonnaya, begged Udensi, telling him that both of them were from the same area but despite the plea, Udensi uncontrollably harassed him the more and without any evidence of acts of unprofessionalism or breach of law by Ogbonnaya.
Going forward, Abia Online Media Practitioners, frown at the crude and toutish actions of Udensi that resulted to the infringement of Ogbonnaya’s human rights by a morally bankrupt emerging politician.
Abia Online Media Practitioners wish to remind the bully that journalists are the only professionals the Nigerian Constitution armed and gave the responsibility of holding governments accountable and as such, should not have members harassed, bullied, during election duties among other functions.
For clarity purposes, it is stated in Chapter Two, Article 22 of the Nigerian Constitution (as amended) that “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times, be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and highlight the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.
Hinging our stand on this Constitutional provision, Abia Online Media Practitioners makes it clear that anyone that attacks any of her members in person or under the guise of a group, is not just attacking an individual, but Nigeria’s Constitution and indeed the progress of our society and humanity in general.
Abia Online Media Practitioners wish to use this medium to warn anyone, groups who may want to assault her member in the future, to desist from such an abberration.
Hitherto, the Association is calling upon the bully (Udensi), to meet the demands of this noble Association by tendering a letter of apology to Ogbonnaya which will be published in National dailies and blogs in Abia State or have the Association to contend with.
The body reiterates that it will not treat this attack on one of their own with kid gloves, adding that it is poised to pursue the matter to its logical conclusion in order to ensure there will not be a repeat of such inhumane and anti-people action in Abia or anywhere in Nigeria forthwith.
The Commissioner of Police Abia state
The chairman People’s Democratic Party Abia state chapter.
The chairman People’s Democratic party Bende chapter.
The state coordinator Liberty International Abia state chapter.