Online publishers based in Delta under the aegis of Delta online publishers forum (DOPF) have come down hard on officials of the state government who were reported to have allegedly threatened Mr. Albert Ograka, publisher of blanknewsonline in Asaba, the Delta state capital.
On Tuesday, Mr. Ograka published a story bordering on fraud allegedly perpetuated by former chairman of state universal basic education board, Pat Ejeteh, to the tune of N500million prior to her leaving the board over a year ago.
A few hours after the publication, Mr. Ograka raised the alarm that the chief press secretary to the governor of the state, Charles Aniagwu, and director of orientation, Eugene Uzum, called threatening to deal with him using DSS, police and others to arrest him should he fail to pull down the said story and offer unreserved apology to the former board chairman.
In a statement made available to journalists on Thursday, secretary of the DOPF, Shedrack Onitsha, the group condemned the threat from the government officials, saying the resort to harassment, intimidation and threat to the life of the journalist was unnecessary as the publisher was only carrying out his legitimate duties.
READ BELOW THE FULL STATEMENT FROM DOPF IN DELTA
The attention of Delta Online Publishers Forum (DOPF) has been drawn to threat to life of one of its members, Mr. Albert Ograka, Publisher of www.blanknewsonline.com, an online news website who is carrying out his lawful duties by agents and officials of the Delta state government, following a report published in his site, which bothers on alleged fraud in State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), an agency of the state government.
DOPF condemns that the idea of bullying, harassing, intimidating and threatening journalists who are doing their legitimate business with little or no provocation by the agents of Delta state government, a government which has enjoyed robust unsolicited media coverage from our members.
Our members have been going about their duties of bridging the gap between the government and the people and also holding the government accountable to the people responsibly, therefore, no amount of harassment and threat will make us chicken out from this sacred responsibility.
We therefore call on agents, officials of the Delta state government and PDP leaders in the state to come down from their high horse, and stop forthwith, their resort to threat or harassment with little or no misunderstanding, as we will take any lawful action to protect our members from undue harassment.
We had expected that with the level of cooperation given to this government by DOPF, one would have expected its officials to reach out to our leaders before resorting to threat, as it’s obtainable in civilized climes, rather than resort to threats and intimidation.
Though when we called the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor, Mr. Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu who allegedly called and requested that the said report should be pulled down and apology given if not, “he will allow the use of operatives of the Nigeria Police and Department of State Security (DSS) to arrest Mr. Albert Ograka, stall action, while we investigate the report.
The CPS to the Delta state governor, Mr. Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, the Executive Assistant to the governor, Directorate of Orientation, Delta state, Mr. Eugene Uzum, when contacted by DOPF denied issuing any threat to him, but only called his attention that the story was false, and that his facts are not correct.
They equally assured DOPF, that the Delta state government is not after any journalist, much more Mr. Albert Ograka and that he is safe to go about his business without fear.
We want to take them by their words, hoping that they will act according, while will call state government to call its officials who allegedly threatened to deal with Mr. Albert Ograka to order, because we shall hold them accountable should anything harm come the way of Mr. Albert Ograka and his family.