Mr. Speaker: Attack on Press Freedom is unacceptable in Abia, or anywhere else.

by Amos Kalu

Recently, the Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly Rt Hon Emmanuel Emeruwa is presenting himself as an enemy of the Press, such presentation is risky for a Public Officer who still have future ambitions.

Emeruwa cannot defeat the Press no matter how he tries it and whom he employs, he will always regret fighting the Pen Profession.

Under Mr Emeruwa as the 8th Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, the House has held two Press Conferences, one held two weeks ago where the Speaker disgraced himself before reasonable members of the Public when he said that INNOSON Motors had been paid to Supply Official Vehicles to the members of the Abia State House of Assembly, only for the company to rubbish such claims, one would have expected the Speaker to tender an unreserved apology to Abians, but instead the Speaker today Thursday 27th June 2024 walked out two Correspondents working for Enyimba FM Aba who were duly accredited by the Information Unit of the House of Assembly.

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No Reasonable Speaker who wants to succeed will allow a Civil Servant pitch him against the Fourth Estate of the realm, it is risky, it is costly.

Emeruwa cannot be the then Ugandan President-Dictator Idi Amin who was issuing a general warning to the populace: yes, you formally have your constitutional rights, which we cannot formally repeal because it looks bad; but if you try to exercise your rights – as we say in a legal notice – “the costs and consequences will be yours.”, although that is what he attempted to do today when he walked out two Journalists from his Press Conference for allegedly demarketing him in Aba, the reason is laughable, infantile and provocative.

A Public Officer or Public Official is a person who derives his livelihood from the taxes paid by the public.  He holds the office in trust for the Public. Whatever he does in that office is generally for the public interest so in a logical conclusion, the Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly Rt Hon Emmanuel Emeruwa who has accepted a Public office has lost a part of his right to Privacy, he has become a newsmaker for the Journalist and therefore must be monitored and made accountable to the people at all times, so Mr Speaker, Stop shying away from scrutiny unless if you are incompetent, then resign for a more competent person to take over.

Journalism is both a Profession and a Mission. The Journalist is a Professional who is on a mission to uphold the accountability of the government to the governed, he is on a mission to better inform, educate, sensitive and mobilize the people for government programs and activities, by walking those two Journalists out of his Press Conference, the Speaker has shown a high degree of being an enemy to the Press in Abia State.

The Press does not exist for itself but for society. The press needs freedom to keep the masses informed about happenings around them, freedom is not relevant to the press alone but to the society at large, and that is why no Public officer can defeat a United press, especially in Nigeria where freedom of the Press is Guaranteed.

Imagine if the Speaker is the Executive Governor of Abia State, he would have ordered the demolition of the Premises of Enyimba FM in Aba for not giving him a ‘favourable reportage’

Section 39(1)(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provided that;

(1) Every Person Shall Be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference

(2) Without Prejudice to the generality of sub-section (1) of this section, every Person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of Information, ideals and Opinions.

Abians should be worried that a Speaker who is elected first as a Lawmaker representing his people ,and Second as a Speaker overseeing his colleagues is now violating the same Constitution he promised under oath to protect.

Rather than walking Journalists away from his Press Conferences, the Abia Assembly ought to be concerned about his Media Team as it is glaring that he has none because of the type of backlash so far from his Two Press Conferences since June 13th 2023.

The Press is Mightier than the sword, no matter how the current Abia Assembly tries, he can never defeat members of the Fourt Estate.

Promise Uzoma Okoro is the Chairman of Online Media Practitioners in Abia State and he wrote from Umuahia.

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