Journalist Suspended Indefinitely Over Facebook Post on Lack of Payment of  Salaries 

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Mrs. Vivian Ottih, IBC Orient FM
Mrs. Vivian Ottih, IBC Orient FM

On May 6, 2020, Mr. Abiodun Omotosho, a photojournalist with National Wire, an online news platform, was arrested by the Chief Security Officer of the Arena Market in the Oshodi area of Lagos for taking picture of traders displaying their wares in contravention of the time limit of 3 pm specified by the Lagos State government for markets to close business as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

On May 4, 2020, Mrs. Ottih had posted on her Facebook page, a message in which she appealed to ModestusNwamkpa, Governor Hope Uzodinma’s media aide, to make a case to the governor on behalf of workers in the Imo State government-owned radio and television stations who were yet to be paid their February, March, and April salaries.

Mrs. Ottih who is a lawyer and the chairperson of the Imo State Chapter of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), said in the Facebook post, that she was personally hard-hit by the situation having just been delivered of a baby weeks earlier.

In another Facebook post on May 7, she thanked and prayed for the state Commissioner for Information, Declan Emelumba, for intervening on behalf of the unpaid workers.

However, on May 8, she received a query from the Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) signed by the acting director-general of the corporation, Osuchukwu S. O, who said: “I am directed to let you know that this your attitude caused serious embarrassment to Imo State Government thereby ridiculing the government in the eyes of the public with the sole aim of sabotaging the government.”

The IBC did not find her response to the query satisfactory and she was suspended indefinitely.

Again, on May 15, the government queried her for posting the initial query on Facebook.

The state Commissioner for Information condemned her action saying she had no right to do so.

He Commissioner said Mrs. Ottih posted the Facebook message as an individual person, not as the NAWOJ chairperson, adding: “Even if she were to issue the statement on behalf of NAWOJ she would still be wrong because she could only speak for women journalists and not for all the workers of the IBC.

“RATTAWU (the radio Television Theatre and Art Workers Union of Nigeria) has the statutory duty to do that, but they didn’t do that because they were consulting (with government officials over the issue).”