The Nigeria Union of Journalists, Ebonyi State Council has condemned the growing intimidation and harassment of its members by politicians in the State using security agencies.
The condemnation followed the arrest on Tuesday of the Vanguard Newspapers Correspondent in the state, Peter Okutu, three days after the Sun Corespondent was arrested on the orders of Governor David Umahi.
Okutu was arrested on Tuesday afternoon at the Woodberry Hotel Abakaliki by armed men of the State Anti-Robbery Sqaud on the orders of the Ohaukwu Local Government Council Chairman, Clement Odah.
The arrest followed an alleged report by the correspondent on recent military invasion of Ngbo in Ohaukwu Council Area, which did not go down well with the Chairman.
The ugly trend was viewed by the NUJ leadership in the State as an affront on the freedom of the press.
In a statement signed by the Chairman of NUJ in the State, Comrade Tony Nwizi, the Council expressed total disdain over the intimidation and current arrest of its member by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squads of the state police command.
Nwizi said it was unacceptable a situation where by security agents would be used to suppress journalists from their constitutional duties.
Part of the statement read: “The leadership of Nigeria Union of Journalists, Ebonyi state Council wishes to expressed total disdain over the intimidation and arrest of member and reporter with the Vanguard newspapers, Comrade Peter Okutu by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squads of Ebonyi state police command.
“The arrest is an affront to the freedom of the press and we can’t take it anymore.
“I have made efforts to contact the chairman of Ohaukwu local government area, Barrister Clement Odah over the incident but was futile, but I must say that the arrest is totally condemnable.
“A situation where by security agents would be used to suppress journalists from their constitutional duties can’t be acceptable.
“If anyone feels aggrieved, the only legal option is to seek redress and not to collude with security agencies to harass, arrest, and detain journalists.”
Okutu was invited by the Chairman to Woodbery Hotel, Abakaliki, where he was handed over to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of Ebonyi State Police Command.