Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the action of the Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Dave Umahi, banning of two reporters with Daily Sun and Vanguard newspapers from covering the activities of the Ebonyi State Government, describing it as anti-people and an attempt to gag the press.
In a statement issued yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kunle Edun, the NBA expressed sadness over the governor’s action.
It argued that the rights to freedom of expression, to impart and disseminate information were constitutionally guaranteed rights which could not be taken by an executive fiat.
Edun noted that there were other statutory remedies, such as the law of libel, for anyone who was dissatisfied with false publications, to explore.
“The Nigerian Bar Association views the reported threat ascribed to the Governor of Ebonyi State allegedly banning two journalists for life as unfortunate and a sad reminder of the rule by force under the military regime.
“The Nigerian press constitutes the fourth realm in the democracy estate and plays a very important function in ensuring the growth of our democracy.
“The right to freedom of expression and the right to impart and disseminate information are constitutionally guaranteed rights under the Nigerian 1999 Constitution and same cannot be taken away by executive fiat.
“The law against libel is available for anyone seeking remedies against false publications.
“Our democracy requires an unfettered and courageous press to grow.
“It is anti-people to gag the press. Government is expected to partner the media, civil society organisations and professional organisations like the NBA to help in the delivery of the dividends of democracy.”
Meanwhile, The Sun Publishing Limited has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, over the harassment and arrest of Agwu by the state police command.