Reports from Ebonyi State, South East Nigeria, say Governor David Umahi has reversed his ban on Correspondents of The Sun and Vanguard newspapers, Chijioke Agwu, Peter Okutu, respectively, from the State House.
The U-turn might not be unconnected with the uproar from various quarters that followed the ban.
However, a press statement issued by the Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr Francis Nweze, stated that,
“The governor never ordered a ban on any journalist from attending state functions.”
The document explained that the two journalists were never embarrassed, intimidated, or harassed to the knowledge of the Governor in any government event as alleged and that the governor never ordered for such.
“That the governor, Engr. David Umahi, FNSE, FNATE had on 15th and 22nd April 2020 called on the attention of the state NUJ Chapter, Comr. Tony Nwizi and advised him and his executive members to admonish members of the union in the state to ensure they make their findings correctly and avoid unverified and false reports as it doesn’t help in the progress and building of our country, Nigeria and also capable of causing panic in Ebonyi state”
It added that “having made the above clarifications; I, therefore, call on the general public, NUJ and others concerned to discountenance with the false reports, videos and audio as they are either a figment of the bearers imagination which they brought to bear or a deliberate attempt geared towards smearing the hard-earned good reputation and good media relationship of the governor.
He said that their attention was drawn to the news and a purportedly doctored audio and video making the rounds on Social and Print Media alleging that the governor banned Chijioke Agwu and Peter Okutu of Daily Sun Newspapers and Vanguard Newspaper respectively for life for publishing false reports.
“There were false reports from Chijioke Agwu of Daily Sun who reported that Lassa fever is killing Ebonyians in Droves on Tuesday, 14th April 2020, and Peter Okutu who reported that the Nigerian Military killed 20 Ebonyians just last weekend on 21st April 2020.
“That the above two reports all raised alarm and caused panic in the midst of the fight against COVID-19. No case of confirmed death caused by Lassa fever has been recorded in recent times in Ebonyi state neither was there any killing by the Nigerian Military last weekend in Ebonyi. The reports were all ill-conceived and have no truth in them.”, the statement claims.