The Ondo State governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has withdrawn the press accreditation cards that admit some journalists to cover Government House activities in the state, and barred them from giving media coverage to his activities. The governor was angered by negative press coverage he received from the affected media organizations.
The affected media houses are Channels Television, African Independent Television (AIT), Raypower FM and Core Television and are reported to have also been barred from accessing the facilities of the Alagbaka ‘Press Crew’ office of the Governor in Akure.
Correspondents of these mediums were instructed to drop all the state government property in their possession, including the state house media identity cards issued them by state government through the office of the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor.
An unnamed source was quoted as saying that the journalists with the affected mediums were accused of reporting the activities of the government in “bad light” while ignoring the development stories that could attract investors to the state. The source reportedly said: “The main issue that the government has with these affected media stations is their critical reportage on government activities in the state.”
Another source however claimed that the stations were sent packing from the government office because the State government could not afford the “heavy fund” that was being paid to the stations which was inherited from the past administration.
The second source added that: “In fact, despite such payments, which I know the past government did before leaving office, these media stations don’t still report us well and in good light. We feel we can’t continue to retain them and we have told them we no longer need their services in the government house.”
A reporter with one of the affected mediums confirmed the expulsion, according to him, “They told us to leave the government office on the pretence that they could no longer accommodate us and retain the quarterly payment.” He however added that: “Some of us are not surprised because since the inception of this APC-led government of Akeredolu, they have declared war on journalists.” He cited two previous attacks on journalists by members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) which he attributed to the State government, saying “they knock the ones that do not carry out their biddings or refuse to praise-sing them in their stories.”
The state governor was quoted as telling journalists in early 2017 that: “I don’t care about whatever you guys write about me but let me tell you, I have become this governor and nothing or nobody will change me. So, you can continue to write whatever you like.” He was at a public event inside the International Event Centre, DOME, in Akure where he reportedly made the remark.
It is also reported that coverage of the activities of the government, since the beginning of the year 2018, had been restricted to only select media stations, mostly the state-owned media outlets.