The Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), Mr. Frank Tietie, on Friday called on Embassies, Foreign Missions and High Commissions to impose travel ban on the Governor of Ebonyi State, Mr. David Umahi, and his entire Exco.
The human rights activist condemned the persecution of journalists by the governor of the state.
While citing section 22 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to press home his demand, he added that only corrupt elements would be afraid of the media.
He said: “Section 22 of the Constitution provides as follows that the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.”
Titie, averred that “the only possible reason the governor of a state in Nigeria can be so morbidly afraid of journalists to the extent of making life difficult for them to practise journalism in his state, threatening to flog them with ‘koboko’ and barring them from the state government house for life, the way the Umahi is reported to have done, is because he has many skeletons to hide in his cupboard.
“Therefore there is a presumption that the current administration in Ebonyi State is very corrupt because any government that doesn’t want to stand up to the scrutiny of the Press, is an irresponsible government that has chosen not to be accountable to the people, according to Section 22 of the Constitution”.
The CASER boss said: “The people of Ebonyi State should at this time be most pitied for them to have that sort of quality of a person as governor who, out of fear of the truth, wants to flog journalists with ‘koboko’ for carrying out their constitutional duties.
“Even the military, in its history of governance never contemplated such barbarity as an official policy. It can only therefore be imagined, the level of subjugation, that the citizens of that Ebonyi State are currently suffering silently, under the present administration in the state.”
He said CASER was therefore calling on President Muhammadu Buhari and other state governors in Nigeria to also bar Umahi and his cabinet members from travelling to the Abuja or any other state in Nigeria until they reverse this act of illegality that threatens civilized and peaceful means of holding governments across the world, accountable to the people.
He called on Embassies, High Commissions and Foreign Missions in Nigeria to immediately begin to compile the names of the family members of the governor and ensure that they are also issued travel ban for life.
According to him, the action of the Ebonyi state government should not be forgotten quickly, adding that It must remain as a permanent witness against Umahi for life, unless he reverses himself now.
CASER also calls on the Committee for the Protection of Journalist (CPJ), journalists everywhere, including the ones in Ebonyi state to help in the compilation of the names of the family members of these abusive government officials from Ebony State.
He added that Ebonyi state Exco must be taught a serious lesson in order to restrain them from continuing on this unprogressive path that is antithetical to democracy and inimical to the promotion of national and international peace and development.
This barbarous act by the Ebonyi State Government against journalists must be resisted locally and globally, Tietie insisted.