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Restriction of Journalists covering Imo assembly activities, a dangerous precedent—Union



The Imo State Correspondent Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has decried restriction of its members from covering activities of the Imo State House of Assembly.

The chapel in a communique after its emergency meeting in Owerri on Sunday said the action portended a dangerous precedent.

According to the chapel, the action is viewed as undermining free press as the action is seen as gagging the press in Imo State.

The chapel noted that the Correspondents Chapel is the umbrella body for the national media houses in Imo.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that leadership of Imo House of Assembly had recently commenced accreditation of journalists in the state targeted at the House of Assembly reporters.

But the Correspondent chapel in a unanimous agreement said the action did not only undermine free press, but was against the development of democracy in the state.

Chairman of the union, Mr Steve Uzoechi explained that the action also undermined the recently signed Open Government Policy (OGP) which Gov. Emeka Ihedioha endorsed to further deepen democracy in the state.

He said, “We have observed the ongoing process of accreditation of journalists by the leadership of Imo Assembly, where most of the correspondents in Imo are restricted from entering the assembly complex and also were harassed and embarrassed by security agencies.

“When this process started, our members are not informed and we view this development as a dangerous precedent and if steps are not taken to reverse it, the leadership of the house will be seen to be undermining the free press,” he said.

He said the restriction policy if sustained would be an unfortunate reminder of the dark days of Nigerian repressive juntas.

He said legislative arm of government was not a security facility, but an estate of the people of the state whose right it was to know what goes on at the assembly complex through the instrumentality of the media.

“Your duties as a legislature should not infringe on our duties as journalists and the watchdog of the society.

“We, therefore, urged the leadership of the Assembly to give members of the correspondent chapel unrestricted access to cover the activities of the House,” he said.

Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Tukur Muntari.

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