Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has called on the Governor of Enugu State, Peter Ndubuisi Mbah to immediately halt the harassment and intimidation of journalists in the state.
MRA, a non-governmental organization focused on promoting media freedom and freedom of expression, expressed concern over the ongoing attacks on the media by the Enugu State government, which it says violate the Constitution and breach the Governor’s oath of office.
In a statement issued in Lagos, MRA’s Deputy Executive Director, Ayode Longe, emphasized that the media’s role is to uphold responsibility and accountability of the government to the people, and not to merely praise the actions of the Governor.
He warned that the unjustified attacks on journalists engaged in their lawful professional duties will not go unchallenged.
MRA specifically urged Governor Mbah to put an end to the harassment and intimidation of Michael Okechukwu Ilediagu, the publisher of News Center, and other journalists in the state, allegedly orchestrated by the Governor’s aides.
Longe asserted that if the situation persists, MRA will resort to all constitutional and international means available to challenge the ongoing illegality, which it sees as an abuse of office and power.
The organization called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Inspector-General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun, to order an investigation into the alleged abuse of police powers by Police authorities in Enugu State. MRA claimed that the police have been acting at the behest of the Governor’s Office to harass and intimidate journalists in an attempt to hinder their constitutional functions.
Longe pointed out that Ilediagu had reportedly been subjected to intimidation by the Police Anti-kidnapping Squad, who allegedly invaded his home and arrested him over his reporting on developments in the state, without evidence of any offense.
He further stated that officials of the Enugu State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other journalists and civil society actors have confirmed that the journalist and publisher continue to face threats and harassment from State Government officials.
MRA stressed that journalism is not a crime and argued that the abuse of police powers to advance personal and political interests of government officials is where the potential crime lies.
The organization called on Governor Mbah and his aides to respect the rule of law and allow journalists and media organizations in the state to carry out their professional duties without fear of harassment, intimidation, or threats.
(Edited by Oludare Mayowa; firstname.lastname@example.org; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)