Recent events and development in the state have raised unanswered questions on whether the administration is out to muzzle the press or allow freedom of speech even if it is from the opposition.
Already,a senior staff of Imo State Broadcasting Corporation(IBC),Barr Vivian Ottih was recently suspended for demanding salary of staff of IBC while one Ambrose Nwogwugwu is in DSS custody over what government described as Cyber Terrorism.Now the management of Owerri based tabloid has alleged plot by the Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA), an agency of the state government to close down it’s operations.
According to the co-publisher of Trumpeta Newspaper,Hon Henry Ekpe who spoke to our reporter on phone over the development confirmed that officials of Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA) were at there office.
The report has it that on Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020, operatives of the government’s agency, accompanied by armed policemen and fierce looking young men stormed the Item Street, Ikenegbu area of the Trumpeta office, in Owerri, the state capital.
According to eye witness accounts, the squad, packed in a 16-seater Innoson made bus, inscribed OCDA, invaded Item Street, Owerri, where Trumpeta Newspaper office is located to make inquiries from residents about the particular building housing the tabloid.
The team was led by two men who also came with Innoson SUV truck with Imo State Government plate numbers.
Initially, their vehicles had patrolled the street repeatedly ostensibly in search of the Trumpeta office.
When the building housing Trumpeta office was eventually pointed out to the OCDA men, the weird looking fellows in the bus accompanied by the armed policemen jumped out in a jiffy, acting in a movie-like manner and immediately surrounded the premises thereby fuelling fears among residents of the street of a planned external aggression.
Residents within the Trumpeta office neighbourhood on sensing the approach of the OCDA men became frightened of their presence.
Remarkably, Trumpeta staffers who were in office, alarmed by the gestapo manner of invasion adopted by the OCDA to the complex, had to take cover for safety.
Frustrated about the failure of their suspected misadventure in Trumpeta office since they couldn’t meet any staff, and apparently aware of the watching crowd who had gathered to witness the interesting scene, the OCDA operatives merely inscribed a write up on the walls of the building as cover up.
When they stormed out of the premises, the OCDA men again marked on the walls of the houses opposite the Trumpeta office building. Inscribed on Trumpeta building that had been in existence for over 20 years was “provide your building approval within 7 days”.
Trumpeta management, worried by the development, is uncomfortable with the OCDA move, considering the search the government agency embarked on Item Street for the newspaper’s office.
The management of the tabloid recalls that in recent times, some government appointees have been making sarcastic comments about Trumpeta editorial contents. In most cases, their complaints were laced with indirect threats to life.
It is a thing of surprise how of all the old and new houses along Item Street, Ikenegbu, Owerri, OCDA chose to search only for the Trumpeta office location. The operators of the newspaper are also perplexed as to why it was the only building housing the corporate affairs office of Trumpeta that was marked to produce building plan on Item Street.
Apparently alarmed by the suspected OCDA onslaught, the management has raised the alarm over their lives warning that the government agency should be held responsible if anything funny, unusual or harmful should befall Trumpeta publishers and workers in the coming days.
“When contacted on phone, OCDA General Manager, Innocent Ikpamezie who responded, confirmed it was his men who came for the operation. When confronted on with the interest of his operatives was and why the location of Trumpeta office and only the building was marked to provide Building Plan after years of existence, he said that it was a normal exercise considering the fact that there could be information on a poor state of a building and the signpost to locate such place could be a famous name for identification like Trumpeta.
But the newspaper responded during the phone exchanges that the building housing Trumpeta has Philips House bodily inscribed on the wall for passersby to see despite the street number on the wall. Other notable signposts in the building for reference points with address boards, other than Trumpeta without a signboard are; the Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic and Medical Lab Registration Council office.
In view of the above, the management of Trumpeta newspapers has concluded arrangements to intimate the Nigeria Police Force, Imo State Command and the State Directorate of the State Security Service (DSS) of the said development while alerting Imo people of the ominous signals therein. Also the OCDA management is advised to undertake their lawful duties professionally, devoid of intimidation and should not allow themselves to be used to settle personal or political scores. He concluded that the world is watching, as events unfold”, our source disclosed.