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IPC condemns arrest of journalists, demands abducted reporter’s release

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Piqued by the incessant arrests, harassment and intimidation of journalists, the International Press Centre (IPC) has condemned the act and demanded the immediate release of a reporter presently being held incommunicado by security operatives.

Citing the recent harassment of an Ebonyi State-based journalist and the abduction of a reporter in Kaduna State, it said the renewed assault on press freedom in the country was evident in the harassment of Chijioke Agwu in Ebonyi and abduction of Adamu Musa in Kaduna State.

In a statement issued by its Programme Manager, Stella Nwofia, Executive Director of IPC, Lanre Arogundade, condemned the onslaught on Agwu during a media briefing at Government House, Abakaliki.

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He was reportedly whisked away by the Chief Security Officer (CSO), who was said to have acted on the instructions of Governor David Umahi.

The statement disclosed that Agwu was being hounded following Umahi’s discontent over a feature story he wrote on Lassa fever outbreak in the state and published on April 18, 2020.

Also condemning the abduction of Musa of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in Kaduna on April 18, 2020, he appealed to the Nigeria Police authorities to do all within their powers to secure Musa’s freedom

Besides, following the lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus in the country, the South East Regional Group (SERG) has urged governors of the region to take more drastic steps to safeguard the region by closing all state borders.

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The group said it was disturbed by the plight of ordinary citizens in the region, just as it also advocated the establishment of a regional COVID-19 intervention fund, where all good-spirited Igbo persons could donate funds to help residents during the lockdown.

President of the group, Chief Willy Ezugwu, who made the appeal in a statement at the weekend, said, “It is expedient that the governors close the borders to avert major calamity in the event of a community outbreak of coronavirus in the South East.”

Meanwhile, Abia State has disclosed that the it has not yet received any palliatives from the Federal Government, just as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has also not contributed to the building and equipping of the new Isolation Centre at the State University Teaching Hospital in Aba.

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The state’s Commissioner for Information and member of the COVID-19 Inter-Ministerial Committee, John Okiyi Kalu, in a statement described the insinuation as “sponsored lies and propaganda from those who live by propaganda,” and urged members of the public to disregard the claims.

“Our state has also not received any money from the Social Investment Fund, as we are among the four states yet to benefit from the scheme.

“It is also not true that NCDC is constructing the new Isolation Center in Ogbor Hill, Aba. The project is being funded by the Abia State Government and we hope to hand over the facility to Abia State University Teaching Hospital soon,” the statement added.

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