I Have No Hands in Journalist’s Travails in Akwa Ibom, Says Ekere

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Nsima Ekere

Segun James

The Akwa Ibom State governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC),Etubom Nsima Ekere, has dissociated himself from the report that he orchestrated the arrest and detention of the chairman of newspaper publishers in the state, Mr. Emmanuel Sam.

Ekere in a statement by his Special Adviser on Communication, Mr. Utibe Ukim, said the allegation is “false, baseless and completely devoid of any iota of truth and has been concocted to paint Mr. Ekere in the negative.”

This is as the APC in the state has cried out that a former aide of the state governor who recently resigned and joined the APC was shot by unknown assailants.

According to Ukim who was reacting to a statement issued by the Coalition of Akwa Ibom State Media Professionals: “Before the Dark Cloud Falls on Akwa Ibom Media Practitioners and Other Vocal Akwa Ibom Indigenes”, alleging that Ekere, is the unseen hand behind the arrest and detention of Prince Emmanuel Sam, Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Independent Newspapers Publishers Association and publisher of The Guide Newspapers; “for the avoidance of doubt, let me state clearly that Mr. Ekere is not and cannot be behind the travails of Prince Sam or any journalist, publisher, blogger or anyone with opinion that differs from his.

“Mr. Ekere is not synonymous with the Nigerian Police Force and we will therefore refuse every attempt to link him to the activities of the Police anywhere and in any manner.”

“Mr. Ekere is a staunch believer in press freedom and in the rights of media practitioners to hold governments and leaders accountable for the trust reposed on them by the people. He believes in the right to free speech. As he has said very often, a free press is a critical building block for the future he envisions for Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria and cannot take or support any action that curtails that freedom.”

Ukim lamented that in recent months, Ekere has been “the subject of a campaign of calumny which a section of the Akwa Ibom media has launched on him, his candidacy and his party, the APC. In spite of this, he remains deterred in his determination to bring real change and prosperity to the people of Akwa Ibom State.

“In this season and time, when truth is scarce and falsehood elevated to high art, it is wise to take counsel from the words of John Milton who said: ‘Let truth and falsehood grapple. Who have ever seen truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?’ May the truth always prevail.

Meanwhile, APC has cried out that one of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s former aides who recently resigned his appointment and decamped to the APC has been shot by unknown gunmen in his home in Uyo, the APC.

The party in a statement signed by Mr. Daniel Udofia, said that Mr. Mfon Udeme, a lawyer, who resigned two weeks ago as the Special Assistant to the Governor on Electoral Matters before defecting to the APC was shot in the thigh at about 1.30am and was immediately rushed to hospital where he is receiving treatment.

Udeme, according to Udofia is from Ibiono LGA, the home of Senator Bassey Albert, the only PDP Senator in the state; while disclosing that this is the second assassination attempt on an APC chieftain in Uyo in as many weeks.

“On Wednesday last week, a bullet was fired into the bedroom of the Mr. Nsima Ekere, the APC governorship candidate in the state. Mr .Ekere was not at home, but his wife, Ese, who was in the room, was almost hit by the bullet. Just before then, some of Ekere’s campaign billboards in Uyo have been torn apart by agents and thugs of the state government.

“The uptick in violence and acts of intolerance in the state in the last few years has lent credence to the fears that Gov. Udom Emmanuel will resort to politically motivated hostility and bloodshed against perceived opponents in the run up to his re-election campaigns.”