Akwa-Ibom - Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COHRD) has expressed concern at reports of an onslaught on press freedom and journalists by the Akwa Ibom State administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
The organisation said it was particularly saddened by the unlawful and undemocratic manipulation of the Department of State Service (DSS) by the state government in a desperate attempt to suppress all forms of perceived anti-government reports in the media, especially the local press in the state.
It alleged assaults and arrest of media personnel by the DSS recently.
“It is indeed a very sad commentary and tragic irony that the same DSS that has come under intense and sustained blackmail and attacks from the Udom Emmanuel-led government over the so-called "invasion" of a presidential guest house in the Akwa Ibom State Governor's Lodge is now being used by the same Udom Emmanuel-led government to harass, intimidate and haunt perceived anti-government media practitioners.
"We consider this totally preposterous, scandalous and unacceptable,” said Inibehe Effiong and Eneh John, CHORD Convener and Secretary, respectively.
They appealed to the Director General of the DSS to as a matter of urgency independently investigate the role of the DSS in Akwa Ibom State in the ongoing clampdown on journalists.
“The present national leadership of the DSS has so far demonstrated its commitment to the dictates of rule of law. We will like to this reformist efforts replicated in the DSS actions, activities and operations in Akwa Ibom State,” said CHORD officials.
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CHORD rejected alleged attempst by the Emmanuel-led government to use the DSS as an “attack dog” against perceived opponents.
“Arbitration of civil disputes and criminal charges are the exclusive preserve of the courts.
The DSS must not be used for dirty and reckless objectives. We believe that the change in the political leadership of our country is hinged on rule of law, respect for the rights of the citizens and accountability,”
“COHRD demands an immediate end to this undemocratic drums of war against press freedom in Akwa Ibom State. No government in the history of this country has ever succeeded in suppressing the press. Gen. Sani Abacha, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and even former governor Godswill Akpabio all tried it. They all failed woefully.”
They argued the attack on the media was tantamount to an attack on democracy.
“We will resist any attempt to return our nation to the dark and inglorious days of dictatorship.”
- CAJ News