Enugu Rescue Group
The Enugu Rescue Group notes with serious concern the speedy descent of Enugu State into a home of political impunity characterized by assault on transparency and right to information.
ERG condemn in totality the decision of the 7-Man Investigate Panel on the Enugu chicken impeachment to bar journalists from covering the proceedings of the ongoing impeachment trial for the benefit of the public.
ERG is pained that this impunity has persisted despite the protests by the lawyers of the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi and the Nigerian public.
ERG also condemns in strong terms the long and persistent “mopping” in Enugu State and its environs, of newspapers and magazines that carry reports and articles deemed to be critical of the Governor Sullivan Chime Administration.
ERG is concerned that both anti-democratic actions are being perpetrated at the behest of the Enugu State Government with public resources.
ERG considers the constant “mopping” of national dailies as gross violation of the letters and spirit of the Freedom of Information, FOI Act, and especially Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, which upholds the right of citizens to “hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference”.
We further wonder why impeachment proceedings that were broadcast live on televisions in other states such as Nasarawa have become a secret business in Enugu.
1. The ERG submits that an impeachment investigative panel is not a secret cult and its businesses cannot and should not be run like one. Sunday Onyebuchi holds the people’s mandate and any trial towards taking away such mandate should be open to the electorate.
2. ERG unequivocally maintains that journalists are the eyes and ears of the public and should be allowed to do their jobs in line with 1999 Constitution, global best practices, and universal principles of democracy.
3. ERG demands, as a matter of emphasis and urgency, that the video coverage of the Panel’s hearing by the electronic media houses should henceforth be allowed to enable the public scrutinize and weigh the decisions of the panel against the testimonies and evidences provided at the hearing. Importantly, such a critical event in the life of Enugu State and our democracy must be preserved unedited for posterity, which is also entitled to its own judgments of our words, actions, and inactions today.
4. ERG insists that Nigerians will consider the Panel a kangaroo panel contrived to do the master’s bidding if it fails to stop behaving like a secret cult; thus any “guilty” verdict returned by it against the Deputy Governor will be unacceptable because it is a kangaroo decision marred by political Ebola virus.
5. The ERG urge the Newspaper Proprietors of Nigeria and the Newspapers and Magazines Distributors Association of Nigeria to please call their complicit members and agents in Enugu to order. The constant carting away of newspapers and magazines impedes the role of the media as the watchdog of the society. The best way for the Enugu State Government to manage its dwindling political fortunes and growing unpopularity is to desist from doing those things that earn it bad press, not by expending public resources in denying the people access to information.
Comrade Martin Okenwa
National Publicity Secretary
Issued this 10th day of August 2014.
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