No beating about the bush. Let me begin by showing you this internal memo. Read it.
TO ALL CONCERNED
His Excellency, the Digital Governor has directed that henceforth, only the underlisted persons should be part of his itinerary: Channels reporter and camera man; AIT reporter and camera man; Ashie Osor (Chronicles), Daniel Williams, Nakanda, Sunny Inah (CRBC), Offiong Onoyom (Social media), Emmanuel Ulayi (Social media), Beatrice Akpala and one Camera man.
Further more, no textual (press releases), photographic and video materials must be sent out to the public without the permission and clearance of Mr. Christian Ita.
All concerned persons must adhere to this directive, failure of which will attract severe consequences.
Office of the Governor.
Let me break it down.
This memo was circulated in the government house press corps whatsapp group June 14. Keep that date in mind please. CrossRiverWatch uploaded a video of the governor and his deputy dancing at Calas Vegas the day before, June 13. That video reportedly infuriated the governor. Our correspondent, Miss Efa Sunday, was also removed from the government house communication channels including the whatsapp group, then that memo followed the next morning. The witch cried in the night and the child died in the morning.
The excuse by the CPS who was reappointed June 25, 2019 is that, there is no space in the bus that has been given to them by the governor. He explained that the new Press Bus was retrieved from them and given to the judiciary and the one they have now has some bad seats and cannot contain everyone which is why they are streamlining those who follow the governor. When told that the media organizations will want to use their own vehicles, he says NO. Yet, in the governor’s long convoy, every time he steps out of the office, there are at least six empty vehicles following him with only the drivers inside.
Note that by June 13th and 14th, the governor had not yet appointed a Chief Press Secretary CPS. Though Mr. Christian Ita was doing all the work from the background, communication was ticked-off by Nakanda Iyadim in the office. But in the memo all of them were addressed in official titles that they lost since May 29, 2019.
Go back to the memo and read again and note a few things.
🖕There are 15 duly accreditated correspondents from 10 media organizations in the governor’s press corp.
🖕The memo singles out the media organizations the governor is comfortable with to accompany him on his itinerary and sideline others.
🖕Like a headmaster addressing his pupils, the memo warn correspondents not to send any text, picture or video to their organizations unless permitted by the governor’s CPS. Whatta heck? Like seriously?
🖕The memo further warns the correspondents that whoever fails to comply will attract severe consequences. I simply don’t get it. Even orchestra conductors respect their choristers more than this. And His Excellency directed all these?
For those who don’t know, it is the Constitution that established the role of the media.
Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution provides that, “the press, radio, television and other agencies of mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.”
We will not beg or lobby to do what the Constitution says we should do. We are not interlopers. We are not supposed to do this work at the pleasure of the governor or his agents or the CPS. Anytime a government begins to play these unscrupulous games with the media, then there is something they are hiding.
I will speak for my organization. For weeks now CrossRiverWatch Government House Correspondent, Miss Efa Sunday, has reported incidents of hostility in the governor’s office and complained about attempts to make the office uncomfortable for her.
The immediate past Government House correspondent and CrossRiverWatch News Editor, Mr. Jonathan Ugbal faced similar harassments.
He was asked to leave Governor’s Office twice and scolded in public by Governor Ayade thrice. He was also arrested by the Police inside Governor’s office alongside Mr. Nakanda, a youth corps member and another photojournalist for allegedly photographing and publishing a picture of the immediate past Attorney General, Joe Oshie Abang while he was sleeping at the EXCO chambers during the signing of the 2018 budget of Kinetic Crystallization.
It is clear that the Governor does not want a truly free press in the State. Whether this is a move to censor information from the Government House or is an attempt to subtly stifle the press, we remain resolute in our resolve to report news, views and analysis in line with the ethics of the profession.
Governor Ayade needs to save himself from this needless procession to Golgotha. He will leave that office in 1428 days, and the bell is tolling for him.
Citizen Agba Jalingo
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