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Journalists protest against alleged ban from covering Imo Assembly

By Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri
09 December 2019   |   3:27 am
Journalists based in Imo State have protested against the alleged ban by the House of Assembly from coverage of activities in Assembly.

We’re not surprised over state’s corrupt rating, says gov

Journalists based in Imo State have protested against the alleged ban by the House of Assembly from coverage of activities in Assembly. The Guardian gathered, that the 27-member Assembly, through the Speaker, Dr. Chiji Collins, had issued a directive recently that only select journalists from Owerri-based tabloids be accredited to enter the assembly. Some journalists, including a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reporter, who had been covering the assembly, were recently refused accreditation.

The security operatives in the Assembly premises have keyed into the directive. All efforts made by the newshounds to get the lawmakers change the decision failed. Their protest is contained in a statement issued by the chairman of the chapel, Steve Uzoechi, and secretary, Damian Duruiheoma, at the weekend.

“We, the members of the Correspondents’ Chapel, are constrained to draw the attention of the honourable speaker to an ongoing process of restriction on journalists, especially correspondents of national newspapers, radio and television networks from covering the activities of the Imo State House of Assembly.

“From our findings, the action was premised on a mandatory accreditation exercise for journalists for which our members were hardly notified.“The Correspondents’ Chapel, as you may already know, Mr. Speaker, is the umbrella body of all correspondents/reporters of all the national newspapers, magazines, national radio and television networks,” the statement read in part.

Viewing the action as a dangerous precedent, the newsmen added, “We are afraid the legislature under you might be viewed as undermining free press and, of course, the very essence of constitutional democracy which it pledged to uphold.“It would seem unfortunate that at a time the executive arm of the state government is signing up to Open Government Partnership (OGP), the state legislature is making an attempt to restrict the press, limit our access to information and render the activities of the Assembly opaque.”

Meanwhile, Governor Emeka Ihedioha has said that he was not surprised that the state scored 17. 6 percent in the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)’s rating of corrupt state’s at the weekend in Abuja.He said that the feat was not unconnected with the financial prudence applied by his administration, citing the Executive Order 005, ushering in the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and closure of over 250 bank accounts allegedly operated by the immediate past administration of Rochas Okorocha.

In a statement by the Chief Press Secretary, Chibuike Onyeukwu, he said: “It is on record that the past administration institutionalised corruption while their stay lasted. Governor Ihedioha campaigned during the election on his major strength, such as integrity, antecedents, trust and capacity.”

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