A group of journalists numbering about 20, stormed the Imo state House of Assembly, Wednesday, to protest last week’s beating of a journalist and publisher of a local tabloid, News Field, Phinan Chucks.
The incident had taken place at the state secretariat of the All Progressives Congress(APC) along Okigwe road Owerri when aides of Hon Kennedy Ibeh representing Obowo state constituency in the Imo state House of Assembly pounced on him minutes after some people from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had defected to the All Progressives Congress(APC), over a story that their principal was the main actor in the travail of the speaker, Chiji Collins, who an ex-lawmaker, Hon Lawman Duruji, called for his impeachment for not doing his mandatory national youth service.
Leader of the group, kelechi Ugo, said they decided to bring the issue to the notice of the assembly.They called for Ibeh’s suspension to serve as a deterrent to other lawmakers who might want to indulge in such act in the future.
He made it clear that with that incident, the lives of journalists working in the state were in danger as nobody was sure of who the next victim would be.
Reacting to the protest, Hon Ngozi Obiefule, representing Isu state constituency, commended the group for registering their protest, but berated them for not protesting the suspension of their colleague, Barr. Vivian Ottih, from Imo Broadcasting Corporation(IBC) by the state government over her call for payment of three months’ staff salaries.
She recalled that Ottih had been the House of Assembly correspondent of IBC and performed creditably in her bit.
Also contributing, Hon Obinna Okwara of Nkwere state constituency said a similar report against him was carried in one of the national papers that he had symptoms of the dreaded Covid-19 but that he did not get to the extent of beating up the journalist.
Okwara said he rather invited him, cautioned him and made peace with him.
The speaker’s representative, Hon Domnuc Ezerioha, who is also the House committee chairman on Information and Judiciary finally commended the journalists for the respect they showed the speaker and the members of the house and assured that they would look into the problem and report back to them in two weeks’ time.