The publisher of Blank NEWS Online based in Delta state, Mr. Albert Ograka has raised the alarm over threat to his life allegedly by some officials Of Delta State Government over a report on purported fraud in State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).
The journalist in a statement on Thursday said that following a news report which bothered on fraud and corrupt practices published by BLANK NEWS Online, the publisher of the news website, Mr. Albert Ograka has been threatened by officials of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, Nigeria.
According to the statement, the publisher was told to pull down the story and apologize to Mrs. Pat Ejeteh, the former State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Chairman, who was reported to have allegedly been arrested for questioning by the Nigeria anti-corruption agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over fraud related matters.
Mr. Ograka alleged that he was called by the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor, Mr. Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu from his phone number 080332…at 05:36 pm, 05:37 pm and 06:32 pm respectively (Nigeria Time) on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 with threat that if the request to pull down the story and apologize is not immediately carried out, he will allow the use of operatives of the Nigeria Police and Department of State Security (DSS) to arrest him.
“The CPS to the Delta state governor, Mr. Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu had argued that the story was false and that Mrs. Pat Ejeteh was his relative and could not have been arrested without his knowledge.
“I requested that a rejoinder should be written by Mrs. Pat Ejeteh, if she thinks the story was false, instead I was reminded by Mr. Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu that one of the sons of Mrs. Pat Ejeteh who presently serves in the Nigeria Navy is angry and would not hesitate to deal with me, adding that he (Charles Ehiedu ANIAGWU) is also not happy with me because of the story.
“Before Mr. Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu’s call, I had missed a call from the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Government House, Asaba, Mr. Harold Ojji from his phone number 080338.., at 05:30 pm on Tuesday, July 17, 2018.
“I also received another call, urging me to quickly pull down the story from the Executive Assistant to the governor, Directorate of Orientation, Delta state, Mr. Eugene Uzum from his phone number 080387.., at 10:14 pm on Tuesday, July 17, 2018.
“I have received several threat calls from unknown phone numbers and unknown persons since the story was published.
“I want the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta state Council; NUJ South South, NUJ National, the Nigerian public, Human Rights Organizations, Delta Online Publishers Forum (DOPF), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Community to know that my life and that of my family members are presently in danger and to also hold the above named officials of the Delta state government responsible for any unforseen circumstances and incidents.
Ograka is a seasoned professional journalist and member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) as well as Delta Online Publishers Forum (DOPF).
Meanwhile, officials of Delta state Government has denied the claims that the journalist was being hounded over the said report which they have dismissed as frivolous.
Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor, Mr. Aniagwu who was mentioned in the press statement to have allegedly threatened the journalist when contacted by one of our correspondent, said that the story was unfounded.
Mr. Aniagwu was quoted to have said he only spoke to the journalist on professional grounds and didn’t issued a threat on him as being alleged.