Several journalists mainly in the online media and community newspaper were reportedly barred from covering the recently held South South Regional Police Security summit hosted by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state in Asaba, the state capital.
The journalists said they were discriminated against by the organizers of the event which only had the host governor, Okowa and his Edo state counterpart, Mr. Godwin Obaseki physically in attendance.
Governor of River state, Nyesom Wike and his Cross River State counterpart, Prof. Ben Ayade reportedly boycotted the event.
But the governors of Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa states sent representatives at the event where a major schism developed in media circles in Asaba, the State capital, one of the journalists said.
The journalists are members of the chapels of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta Council in Asaba and members of the Delta Online Publishers Forum, (DOPF) as well as Indigenous Newspaper Correspondent Chapel.
“We were denied access to cover the very important event of the South-South Nigeria Police Regional Summit with the theme “Strategic Partnership for Effective Policing,” aimed at strengthening community policing because there is a crack in the media team of the governor, one of the journalist said.
“To the chagrin of journalists, they were denied access to the Event Centre venue of the summit and refused accreditation that should give them tags to enter.
“Accreditation officials said tags for journalists had been collected and taken into the venue, and so the journalist cannot be allowed to go in, Mr. Chukwudi Abiandu, editor-in-chief of Banner online News said.
It was learnt that there is a crack in the media team of the governor in the handling of journalists in the state hence the intermittent cases of maltreatment of journalists covering government events.
Mr. Chijioke Ugbolue, publisher of cshowcasenews.com, Mr. Julius Oweh, former editor of The Pointer newspaper, among numerous other journalists, all of who are NUJ members were among the journalist who were indiscriminately fenced out.
“An official of the Ministry of Information who handles the accreditation process was eye-picking, and handing over accreditation tags to those he said the Commissioner for Information directed him to give tags to.
Seeing the show of shame, demeaning discrimination many journalists, including Abiandu, had to leave.
Abiandu said, “Later, and long after I had left the venue the official of the Ministry of Information, who earlier had eye-picked and given tags to those he said he was directed to give tags to, called me on phone asking where I was. I told him I had left because I could no longer allow myself to be subjected to the demeaning humiliation and discrimination that was going on.”
Journalists are wandering why the regime of discrimination is being introduced against journalists who are not working for the major media houses in Asaba in recent times.
It was argued that even if the Ministry of Information officials in Asaba believe in doing business only with journalists working for the established media houses, should that make other journalists working for other bodies to be deprived access to cover an event of the magnitude of a security summit of the South-South, which was organized by the office of the Inspector General of Police?
Indeed, is it possible for all the established media houses to employ all the numerous journalists being churned out from the various departments of Mass Communication in the country?
One of the journalists who run a media online outfit said being self-employed ought to be in line with the entrepreneurship drive of the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration that is encouraging youths to be creative and become entrepreneurs.
Discrimination against journalists have been the hallmark of government establishment in the state.