National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh outside Enugu Appeal Court among jubilating party faithfuls
National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh outside Enugu Appeal Court among jubilating party faithfuls
By Nwobodo Chidiebere
?The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing?.
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National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh outside Enugu Appeal Court among jubilating party faithfuls
National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh outside Enugu Appeal Court among jubilating party faithfuls

In May 29, 1999, Nigerians heaved a great sigh of relief when we joyously welcomed back democracy from military-orchestrated exile. Nigerians did not only celebrate the exit of military era characterized by impunity; draconic tendencies and despotism, but the breath of fresh air offered by democratic dispensation, which guaranteed every Tom, Dick and Harry the expression of his or her fundamental human rights as enshrined in 1999 constitution as amended, includes, but not limited to: freedom of expression, freedom of association, and most importantly freedom of information later backed by Freedom of Information Act (FOI).

What is happenings in Enugu currently cannot only be described as rape of democracy and rampage of impunity, but malevolent conspiracy against the media. We have a grave situation in which agents of the state government are hijacking channels of information dissemination to keep the people of the state in the dark. The state government has succeeded in determining what the people of Enugu and environ read by conniving with newspaper distributors to consistently mop every edition of any newspaper or magazine report or carry a write up on the bad governance in Enugu. This ugly trend, if not checked, will eventually turn Enugu into a secretive state like North Korea- where government regulates what the citizens read and what they don?t read. This has the capacity of not only gravely undermining democracy, but also shut out the state from the global village.
No society will develop without enriching the knowledge capital and political consciousness of her citizenry. These ill-conceived and despicable acts of the state government have the tendency of retrogressing the wheel of progress in the state, pushing it to the dark ages of history. This illogical and obnoxious act of mopping up newspapers has not only further dented the already tattered democratic quotient and image of the state government, but has gone further to portray it as archaic, antiquated and out-of-touch with realities of 2ist century. That agents of a 21st century government are hoarding newspapers to avert the inhabitants of the state from gaining access to information that is all over the social media is both pathetic and laughable!
Furthermore, the alleged efforts to shutdown the Dream FM- the only 21st century radio station oxygenating South-Eastern airwaves, will not only help in elucidating my point of argument, but will equally assist buttress my view, that Enugu State governor is now behaving like a bull in a China?s shop! How on earth a government would decide to seal a radio station, only because the governor is no longer comfortable with the political inclination of the owner, Senator ike Ekweremadu, beats my imagination. Shutting down Dream FM would come with severe consequences. It will heat up already charged political atmosphere in the Coal City state. It will also lead to loss of jobs and unemployment, while the entire South-Eastern states would be thrown into information gloom, just because a power-drunk governor has made up his mind to flex muscle with his so-called political rival, at the detriment of the yearnings and aspirations of the people of the state. If I may ask, which day did the state government become the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); an organ of the Federal government saddled with the constitutional responsibilities to regulate radio stations? Where is Enugu State government deriving its powers to threaten to shutdown a radio station that was properly licensed before commencement of its operations? Where is the morality behind this wild goose chase? Is this not the same governor that conspired with the EFCC to close down Cosmo FM- the best radio station the people of South-East ever had, with the solitary egotistical aim to spite Chimaroke, a godfather who single-handedly installed him as governor Enugu State? Is this not the same government that recently sealed 129 MTN?s base stations, by using retroactive law, which was only enacted in 2012 to clamp down on base stations built over a decade ago?
The letter by Enugu Government by the Commissioner of Enugu Capital Territory, Engr. Ikechukwu Ugwuegede demanding for some funny documents from the Dream FM just a few weeks to PDP primaries/congresses is suspect because it was the same Ugwuegede that carried out the commando operation that carted away the 3,000 chickens of ex-Deputy Governor in January this year. He could not account for the birds during cross-examination at the chicken impeachment trial. ?It is high time NBC tamed these dastardly acts of lawlessness and executive recklessness being entrenched in the state by the present administration. Sullivan Chime can no longer be allowed to usurp the regulatory powers of government agencies, especially when it hurts democratic dividends of free flow of information and freedom of expression.
It would also be recalled that the media were barred from covering the sittings of the kangaroo panel that was set to legitimize the mockery of democracy in the state. It is only in Enugu State that the unconstitutional processes that culminated in the chicken-impeachment of an erstwhile deputy governor was made a pure secret trial. Conversely, the impeachment trial of the Nassarawa State governor was even broadcast live. And without such transparent trial, it can best be said that Sunday Onyebuchi was convicted by a secret cult teleguided by Chime as the supreme ruler and priest.
In other to protract the media crack down ravaging the Coal City like a wild fire, the agents operating for the State government have started launching unwarranted and ignoble attacks on Journalists and opinion writers they considered offensive. They hound, threaten, and influence transfers those they could not compromise their news reportage and analysis on the happenings in the State.
I wish to use this medium to honorably draw the attention of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigeria Guild of Editors, National Human Rights Commission, the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, and the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria as well as the Newspapers and magazines Distributors Association of Nigeria to immediately intervene to halt the savage clampdown on the media and right to obtain and share information in Enugu. Concerted efforts are necessary to prevent Enugu from further degenerating into a state of anarchy and impunity. It is the constitutional responsibility of government to protect the rights and privileges of the citizenry, not invade them.
Nwobodo Chidiebere writes from Enugu.


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