The Sun Publishing Limited, publishers of The Sun newspaper titles, has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, over the harassment and arrest of its Ebonyi State Correspondent, Mr. Chijioke Agwu, by the State police command
Signed by its Managing Director, Mr. OnuohaUkeh, the petition noted that Chijioke had written a features article based on statistics he obtained from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on the Lassa fever outbreak in the state.
Onuoharecounted that on April 18, the day after the report was published, Chijioke was arrested on the orders of the governor while attending a press conference at the Government House inAbakiliki.
Ukeh said further in the petition: “The initial plan of the governor and the Commissioner of Police was to hurriedly arraign him before a magistrate’s court on trumped-up charges for violating the Ebonyi State Coronavirus and Other Dangerous (Infectious) Diseases and Related Matters Law (No. 005) 2020. However, it took the intervention of the police high command and well-meaning Nigerians before Mr.Agwueventually regained his freedom.”
Expressing worry over the actions of the governor and the state Commissioner of Police, Onuoha added that the dust had yet to settle on the incident when Umahi announced during interaction with journalists that Chijioke (and another reporter with Vanguard Newspaper) had been banned for life from the government house and all government facilities in the state.
The Managing Director noted that: “The ill-treatment meted out to Mr.ChijiokeAgwu (and by extension to our organisation) amounts to a violation of rights to human dignity, freedom of movement, freedom of association and freedom of expression (including rights to gather, write, publish and circulate news), which are all guaranteed in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”
The paper demanded security for the reporter and workers of the company in the state, adding that the state Commissioner of Police should be cautioned.