The Comrade Precious Nwadike Caretaker Committee of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Imo State Council has berated the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba and Mr Chris Akaraonye, the retired photographer turned dissident chairman of Imo NUJ for describing the Imo State correspondent of Punch Newspaper, Chidiebube Okeoma as a non journalist who is not registered with the professional body in the state.
The union in a press statement signed by Comrades Nwadike and Austin Okoro as chairman and secretary respectively, said, the release issued by Emelumba which was as usual signed by Akaraonye, a retired photographer and an active pensioner in the Ministry of Information is nothing new in the chain of events designed by the Imo State government to hijack, dominate and dictate the pace of NUJ in Imo State”.
The release noted that it is regrettable that Emelumba and his cohorts choose to execute their nefarious and sinister motive with a crowd dominated mainly by non practitioners and championed by the weak-link imposter, Chris Akaraonye who has become a rubber stamp for Emelumba’s questionable antics.
They further noted that Emelumba had by the release he issued about Okeoma not being a member of Imo NUJ, given credence to the fact that he has lost touch with the state of affairs in the NUJ, having been out of practice for a very long time. He knows little or nothing about present day journalism practice and the practitioners in the state, hence he described the state correspondent of a reputable newspaper like the Punch as a non journalist.
The release reads in part,“The Union read with utmost dismay the sponsored publication in some local newspapers – Announcer, Lead Express and Newsbreak newspapers – where they averred that the Punch Newspaper Reporter who was manhandled by security personnel at the Imo Government House is not a registered journalist.
This, no doubt, is in a bid to justify the criminal assault unleashed on an innocent journalist by policemen and hoodlums from the Imo State Government House.
Chidiebube Okeoma’s only sin was that he covered a protest organized by street sweepers, mainly widows who are owed their sweeping stipend for upwards of six months”.
“We do not intend to educate Emelumba on the rights of citizens but let it be known to him that it is the right of every citizen to protest. It is also the right of Imo citizens to observe such protest if they so wish, and the right of any practising journalist as Comrade Chidiebube Okeoma, to cover and report the protest.
“If the news platforms that published your tissues of lies had even the slightest modicum of conscience or the least knowledge of their mandate as journalists, they would have known that their responsibility is not just to the Government alone but to the public especially the oppressed members of the public.
The least they could have done is to join Chidiebube Okeoma and other practicing journalists to report the abuse and dehumanization meted out on the poor widows sweeping the streets of Owerri”.
We are also not unaware of the fact that Emelumba may be making a ‘huge kill for himself’ while pretending to be leading the charge for government against practising journalists in Imo state.
What we had expected Emelumba or any reasonable appointee of government to do under the circumstance, was to address issues surrounding the unfortunate plight of the widows and further advise the government to pay the arrears of six months stipends which is the crux of the matter, instead of engaging in frivolities.
We are of the opinion that if the money and energy dissipated in carrying out this failed ‘damage control’ for the government is channeled towards paying the widows’ stipends, they won’t protest again and no journalist will be seen around Government House covering their protest. That’s the most reasonable thing to do”.
“As a matter of fact, if Emelumba is worth all he claims in journalism, he should have known that he can’t get good press by his strong-arm method, neither can bullying or intimidation earn him favourable news reports. All he needs to do is to make visible the good works done by government (Which he hardly does) and urge government to engage in people-oriented projects that effectively impacts positively on the lives of ordinary everyday people in Imo state. With that, there will be no bad press to report”.