Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has called on Governor Peter Ndubuisi Mbah of Enugu State to immediately halt the harassment and intimidation of journalists in the state, stating that such actions by his government violate the Constitution and breach his oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.”
In press statement signed by Idowu Adewale, Communication Officer at MRA, the organization noted that “the ongoing attacks on the media by the Enugu State government have drawn criticism from MRA, and they vow not to let these actions go unchallenged. They specifically mention the harassment faced by Mr. Michael Okechukwu Ilediagu, the publisher of News Center, orchestrated by the Governor’s aides.”
The statement reads in part that “Mr. Ilediagu has reportedly faced intimidation by the Police Anti-kidnapping Squad, who invaded his home and arrested him over his reporting on developments in the State, with no evidence of any offense committed. Officials of the Enugu State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and civil society actors have confirmed that the journalist and publisher continues to face threats and harassment from State Government officials.”
MRA stresses that journalism is not a crime and condemns the use of police units to hound journalists while criminals roam free. They assert that the abuse of police powers to serve personal and political interests is a potential crime in itself.
MRA calls 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 harassment, intimidation, or other attacks and threats.
MRA warns that if the harassment continues, it will employ all constitutional means and international mechanisms available to challenge the abuse of power and office.
The group thereafter call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Olukayode Egbetokun, to order an investigation into the abuse of police powers by the Enugu State Police authorities, who are allegedly acting at the behest of the Governor’s Office to intimidate journalists and prevent them from performing their constitutional duties.