SERAP wants Ebonyi reverse ban of journalists

By chisom

Lagos, April 22, 2020

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has demanded that  Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi should reverse alleged life ban of The Sun and Vanguard correspondents from entering Government House.

The correspondents are Messrs Chijioke Agwu and Peter Okutu.

The journalists were allegedly banned over a report on Lassa fever outbreak in the state.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, SERAP condemned the  alleged ban which also prevents correspondents of the media houses from entering government facilities in the state for life.

The Deputy-Director of SERAP, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, who signed the statement, described the ban as ‘blatant’ violation of the right to freedom of expression and media freedom as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

He said the ban also violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

“We will pursue appropriate legal action nationally and internationally against Ebonyi State authorities, if this illegality is not reversed within 48-hours of the publication of this statement,” he said.

He urged Umahi to show a greater level of transparency and accountability by immediately reversing the  ban and allow the journalists and media houses to freely cover activities of his government.

“Nigerians expect their leaders to show a greater level of transparency, accountability and  take responsibility for what they are doing rather than threatening, intimidating, harassing and banning journalists and media houses from covering their public functions.

“These journalists and media houses are simply doing their work and playing their constitutional roles,” he said.

He said that the  ban countered  the notion of a free marketplace of ideas, necessary to serve the best interests of the public.

“Barring journalists undermines Nigeria’s pledges on democratic reforms and the rule of law and it must stop now,” SERAP said.

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