It is condemnable and a new low for the Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Emmanuel Emeruwa, to expel journalists working for Enyimba TV and Radio Ltd from a press briefing ostensibly because the highly rated independent media house has consistently taken a stand in the defence of democracy in Abia State in particular and in Nigeria in general.

According to multiple sources at the venue of the media briefing today, the Speaker also directed journalists in attendance not to ask any question related to his rascally, undemocratic and despotic refusal to inaugurate the duly elected and INEC certified winner of the 2023 Aba North State Constituency election, Hon Aaron Uzodike, after more than 7 months of the Appeal Court affirming his victory.

The quest to silence free press and muzzle opposition by all means are the hallmarks of dictators empowered by Emperors and it is a big shame that Emeruwa was elected on the ticket of the Labour Party seen by many as a progressive political party.

Unfortunately, not even entreaties from the acclaimed democrat and Presidential candidate of the Labour Party in 2023, Mr Peter Obi, has swayed Emeruwa and his Emperor-master to listen to the voice of reason and inaugurate Uzodike. Instead, the administration in Abia State led by a Labour Party Governor have long decided to treat Mr Obi with disdain and serial disrespect to his person to the chagrin of many political observers who maintain that the popularity of Mr Obi across the nation, and the south east in particular, enabled the emergence of Emeruwa and Governor Alex Otti as elected public officials.

Once more, I wish to call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, leaders of the National Assembly and civil society organizations led by the free press to speak up now and stop the emerging autocracy in Abia State. The government in Abia State is baiting the opposition PDP to engage in street protests to enable further clampdown on leading opposition and media personalities that they have so far failed to intimidate or buy into silence.

Press freedom is a key indicator of the state of democracy in any community and the latest action by Speaker Emeruwa, who hitherto claimed that he refused to inaugurate Hon Uzodike because of “orders from above”, is another confirmation that the government in Abia is not ready to deliver on democracy and its tenets even while spending billions of tax payers money on needless propaganda and lies on its activities.

It is remarkable that since the popular call for the inauguration of Hon Aaron Uzodike started in December 2023, Governor Alex Otti has not publicly commented in defense of democracy and the rule of law even when the Speaker told whoever cares to listen that he is under pressure from the Governor not to inaugurate the acclaimed winner of the election leaving the people of Aba North State Constituency to have endured a lack of representation in the institution whose job it is to appropriate the resources of the state.

I hereby call on Speaker Emeruwa to, as a matter of urgency, immediately apologize and recall Enyimba TV and Radio journalists to the people’s house and inaugurate Aaron Uzodike at the next legislative date. Abia State is not an Empire for an Emperor and his ‘hallelujah officials’ but rather a democratic state under the rule of law with full observance of media freedom and independence.

Chief John Okiyi Kalu
Former Commissioner for Information, Trade and Investment, Abia State


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