On April 22, 2020, the governor of Ebonyi State, Mr. David Umahi, banned two journalists: Mr. ChijokeAgwu, correspondent of the Daily Sun newspaper and Mr. Peter Okutu, correspondent of the Vanguard newspaper, from entering Government House, the seat of Government in the State, and from covering state functions. He also threatened other journalists in the State with dire consequences if they publish any negative story about the state.
Gov. Umahi announced the ban of Chijioke and Peter in a live broadcast on the state-owned Ebonyi Broadcasting Corporation radio and television stations saying “I want to ban him [Peter Okutu] for life with ChijiokeAgwu. I don’t want to see them anywhere in any Government facility.”
He had, at the live broadcast, warned journalists. “If you think you have a pen, we have the koboko [horse whip].”
The governor expressed displeased with the president and leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists whom he accused of failing to discipline their members and said he was, as a result, going to seize their allowances for two months.
He accused Chijioke of reporting falsely that Lassa fever is killing Ebonyi people in droves and Peter of being fond of degrading Ebonyi State, saying he didn’t know why his officials have allowed him to continue to do that and pointing out that Peter is not from Ebonyi State.
Threatening them, the governor said: “I want to ban him [Peter] for life with ChijiokeAgwu. I don’t want to see them anywhere in any Government facility.
“We are not begging you to give us a good report, because the only person that gives good or bad report is God. We are all accountable to him.
If you think that Ebonyi State is a dumping ground, try it again. “If you think you have a pen, we have the koboko. Let’s leave the Court alone. Ebonyi people are very angry with the press and let me warn that I won’t be able to control them or know when they unleash mayhem on you if you continue to write to create panic in the State.”
Speaking further, he said: “The other one wrote that cholera has killed 20 people in Ohaukwu. If you try it again, I may not know when Ebonyians may react. This is important for the NUJ to know.”
“If you are an Ebonyi man or lives in Ebonyi and you don’t feel our pains, it is a shame on you. Maybe, the press people claim they are untouchable.
“I have reported to the National President of NUJ, I have reported to State leadership of NUJ and I have reported to the public. Now, the die is cast. May God save us, in the course of time”.