The Association of Igede Media Professionals (AIMP) has urged lawmakers to always see journalists as partners and desist from attempts to intimidate them at the slightest opportunity.
In particular, AIMP urged the member representing Oju/Obi Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. David Ogewu, to make deliberate efforts to improve his relationship with journalists within and outside his constituency in order to avoid unnecessary friction and foster the much needed peace and unity in Igedeland.
In a statement by its President, Egena Ode, the group noted the invitation and interrogation of its member, Mr. James Ibechi, by the Department of State Services (DSS) in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, a fortnight ago allegedly at the behest of Hon Ogewu.
AIMP argued that the journalist was made a scapegoat on the alter of political disharmony within the local chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The statement read: “Penultimate Thursday, our colleague and Editor of JamesIbechi.com, Mr James Ibechi, was invited by the DSS in Makurdi for interrogation over a report he published.
“We were informed that the DSS personnel took the action following a complaint to them by the member representing Oju/Obi Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Honourable David Ogewu, alleging that Mr Ibechi was out to smear his character and political career with the said report.
“As a group of professionals with the sacred mandate of defending Igedeland and fostering unity among its people, we take issues of breach of journalism ethics very seriously. In this particular case, however, we have found that the essential requirements of an investigative report were carefully adhered to by the writer.
“We wish to clearly state that Mr. Ibechi, from our findings, is a victim and scapegoat of internal dispute in Oju chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) where party leaders and officials did not seem to be on the same page with respect to the Women Empowerment Programme of Governor Hyacinth Alia.
“We are, therefore, miffed by the action taken by Hon Ogewu for resorting to the security agents a matter that can easily be resoved in a brotherly way. This approach is condemnable and reprehensible, more so as it is happening at a time all Igede sons and daughters needed to bond together in view of the prevalence of inter and intra ethnic clashes arround the land.
“Despite the provocation that this mistreatment of our colleague has elicited, and the seeming calculated attempt to undermine our profession, we still have high regards for Hon Ogewu and have decided to treat this affront as a family issue. That’s why we have resorted to this advisory approach.
“Going forward, therefore, we advise Hon Ogewu to see journalists as partners rather than enemies or political rivals, by making conscious efforts to improve his media relations and calling his overzealous aides to order. We have no doubt that will do him a world of good. While we will not condone any form of recklessness by our members, we’ll also not tolerate any act of repression or intimidation of our members by any politician, no matter how highly placed. We won’t say more!”