Two Civil Society Organisations, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the International Press Centre (IPC) have petitioned the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) demanding the sack of Ebonyi State governor David Umahi for alleged abuse of office and continuous journalists’ right violation.
The media support groups in their petition says Umahi is unfit to continue to hold the office of governor and are requesting the bureau to investigate the allegations and invoke the provisions of law on public office holders.
The group urged the CCB to secure Umahi’s removal from office and disqualify him from holding any public office in Nigeria for the next 10 years.
The petition co-signed by MRA’s executive director, Edetaen Ojo and the director of IPC, Lanre Arogundade, cited the April 18 arrest of Chijioke Agwu, a reporter with the “Daily Sun” newspaper, on the instructions of the Governor.
Citing another case of journalists’ right violation, the group said on April 22, Umahi made a state-wide radio and television broadcast where he banned for life Agwu and Peter Okutu, a correspondent of the Vanguard newspaper, from entering the state Government House or any other government facility in the state and from covering any government or official functions in the state.
The organisations attached an audio recording of the governor’s broadcast to the petition, saying it contained inciting statements against the two journalists whom he banned.
The governor put their lives at risk, as well as threats to other journalists in the state who he said would face dire consequences should they publish any negative story about his government.
“It is clear to us from the actions and utterances of Governor Umahi that he is lawless and has no regard for the Constitution, his oath of office, or common decency.
“He believes that he is a law unto himself and we have no doubt that such a person is not fit to continue to hold such high office in Nigeria. We therefore intend to use all legal and constitutional means available to us to pursue this matter to its logical conclusion,” Ojo said.
“We consider the actions of Governor Umahi a grave threat to and assault on our fundamental rights and freedoms as citizens, particularly in the light of his relentless attacks on journalists whose roles are more important now than ever before in the context of a global pandemic that poses an existential threat to humanity, Arogundade added.