*Accuses Imo Governor of attempts to destabilize INPA
Publisher of Nigeria Newspoint Newspaper, an Owerri-based newpaper company, Mr. Lambert Ojukwu has cried out to security agencies in Nigeria over an alleged plot by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State to assassinate him.
Ojukwu is also the chairman of Imo Newspaper Publishers Association (INPA), which published the association’s view on the state of the state in their various newspapers with a call on the governor to give accounts of his stewardship especially as it regards with local government and bail out funds.
However, days after the views were published, the government reacted angrily by declaring war on members of the association, insisting that the publishers were being sponsored by Senator Ifeanyi Araraume to pull the Okorocha’s government down.
According to Ojukwu, who responded to questions from newsmen in Owerri, Okorocha through his chief press secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo was after his life and that of his family, for demanding that the governor should give account of his stewardship to the state.
Ojukwu disclosed that the governor had in the evening of Friday March 10, 2017, via a text message warned him over the demand of INPA that the governor publish the account of monies he received from various sources such as Local Governments allocations, 13% oil derivation, Bailout fund, Relief Fund, Ecological Fund, RAMP, IGR among others.
The INPA chairman gave the details of the text message sent to him by Governor Okorocha’s CPS, Sam Onwuemeodo thus: “Don’t take Okorocha’s goodness for granted”.
Ojukwu therefore made it clear that his life and that of his family were in danger following the said threat adding that Imo people and the relevant security agencies in the state should please note in case any harm occurs to him or his family.
The INPA chairman alerted that he has already been informed that some youths had been mobilized to go after him and his family to possibly kidnap or unleash mayhem on him and his family.
He also hinted that his car number had been sent out to some elements who he alleged had been mandated to hunt him down.
On the open letter to the governor, Ojukwu insisted there was no ill feelings or bad motive about the recent demand by the publishers from the government of Rochas Okorocha.
“Don’t forget that as members of the fourth estate of the realm, as the purveyors of information, as the pathfinders of disseminating information and as the watchdogs of the society, they owe it as a duty both to their professional calling and to the society at all times to hold government accountable to the society. And it is exactly what they have done and there is nothing sinister about the demand.
“Every day, people besiege the Publishers with all manners of information both real and imaginary about the government and expect the information to be published. But in line with the real ethics of the profession which anchored on objectivity, investigative and unbiased reportage, there is nothing wrong to ask the government to explain certain misgivings if not for anything, at least to dispel the rumour, confirm the Truth and clear the cloudy air.
“For instance, it was revealed that federal government recently released about N13.2 Billion as Paris Club fund outside the N26.8 Billion naira Bailout funds released some time in 2015 and a lot of people have been insinuating all manner of things about the huge funds which some people including the Publishers considered disturbing and heart boggling and it is only proper that the government comes out clean on this.
“Again, there has been accusations against the government of not adhering to due process and rule of law and these allegations are not healthy for the image of the government both now and even after exit and we are asking the government to come out and proffer answers or explanations to these allegations.
“For me, this is in line to democratic ethos and the only way to go. I must warn here that we must be careful the way we inadvertently institutionalizing and encouraging impunity in government in Imo state and also creating bad precedence by the way and manner we are supporting every action of government simply because of our political leaning and sycophantic dispositions.
This is an ill wind that will blow nobody any good in the future”, he insisited.
Meanwhile, Governor Okorocha has initiated an orchestrated plot to distablize the Independent Newspaper Publishers Association by convening the meeting in the office of the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo during which some members of the body were coerced into issuing a statement purportedly dissolving the executive of the body led by Mr. Lambert Ojukwu.
Reports had it that the publishers being used by Okorocha were given N40,000 each to create a factional INPA and they included co-founders of Nigeria Newspoint newspaper, Mr. Bright Chimezie Njoku and Gele Agbai who are publishers of Nigerian Horn and National Newsbreak respectively as well as Joe Anyama of Announcer Express, Shirley Munonye of Frontline Express among others.
They were given the money to agree to sign the document purportedly removing the Ojukwu-led executive and replacing same with a caretaker committee led by dormant members whose papers have been rested for long now with the mandate to transform the body.
The three-man caretaker are one Dr. Diala of now rested Eastern News as chairman, Chidi Emeagi of Newsguide, Secretary and Tricia as Treasurer.
It will be recalled that since the administration of Governor Rochas Okorocha, majority of the Imo based newspapers had closed down due mainly to the non-patronage of the media industry in the state by the administration, a development the present leadership of INPA under Ojukwu tried to stop.