The Delta Online Publishers Forum, DOPF has condemned what it describes as: “Threat to Life” allegations issued by officials of the Delta State government, on a prominent Journalist in the state, Comrade Albert Ograka, over a story published on his online portal: http://www.blanlnewsonline.com, claiming that agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC had invited and interrogated some officials of the Delta State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB in the process of investigating a petition of alleged fraud within the state parastatal.
Reacting to what is gradually becoming a disturbing pattern of harassment against Journalists in Nigeria and in Delta state in particular, with some recently reported cases making the rounds, the Online Publishers body, in its strongly worded Press statement, cautioned officials of the state to tread with caution and desist from deploying coercion, intimidation and other threatening actions as their responses, against Journalists who were performing their legitimate duties by publishing stories of alleged fraud involving government agencies and individuals.
The Press Release; DOPF condemns threat to the life of our member by agents of the Delta State Government, issued on July 19, 2018 and signed by the Secretary of DOPF, Mr, Shedrach Onitsha, reads thus;
“The Delta Online Publishers Forum (DOPF) has been briefed of alleged threat to life of one of its members, Mr. Albert Ograka, Publisher of www.blanknewsonline.com, an online news website based in the state, following a report published in the medium, which bothers on alleged fraud in State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), an agency of the Delta state government.
DOPF was briefed by Ograka who was carrying out his lawful duties that agents and officials of the Delta State Government issued threat to his life over the said report.
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, we wouldn’t condole any attempt to hound us from this sacred responsibility.
If as was told, statutory anti corruption agency who were reported to have carried out the said arrest had not denied the said report since it was published, then we make bold to condemn the idea of bullying, harassing, intimidating and threatening journalists who are doing their legitimate business, from agents of Delta state government that has enjoyed robust media coverage from our members.
We had expected officials of the state government to, in the first instance with the level of cooperation given to this government by DOPF, reach out to its leadership instead of resorting to direct threat as we have been briefed about by our member. This we think is the right thing to do.
However, we want to give the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor, Mr. Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu who was alleged to have called and requested that the said report be taken down or would launch security agents against our member the benefit of the doubt to state his direct reaction to the report that has warranted this threat to life alarm.
We called on 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, who were alleged to have made the threat phone calls to strengthen their personal relationship with journalists to avoid misgiving of this nature capable of jeopardizing our corporate mutual relationship with the government.
While calling on our members to ensure that every of their publications are within the ethics of the journalism profession, we also call on other agents of the government who want to leverage on the said incident to veer their anger on journalists and our members to tread carefully because DOPF wouldn’t stand against itself for any reason for any overzealous government official. We therefore by this statement put members of the public on notice to know who to hold responsible in case any harm come near Mr. Albert Ograka and his family”.