One of the legacies that the government of Gov Hope Uzodimma of Imo State will leave behind is the unenviable records of assaulting Imo journalists. Early in the life of his administration his legislators were captured to have assaulted about three Imo journalists on different occasions. Records did not show that any of them was sanctioned for overreaching themselves.
Last week the younger brother of the governor named Uche Uzodimma was alleged to have beaten up the publisher of a local tabloid, Mr Precious Nwadike. Nwadike is one of those reputed for crusading for social justice and in one case got entangled with the government of Gov. Rochas Okorocha over a report ran on his paper concerning missing bailout funds
The beating of the publisher who was hospitalized and flown to Lagos for better attention has attracted public outrage with many calling for severe sanctions against the assaulting governor’s brother. Reported accounts indicate too that the culprit is a serial assaulter who relishes in answering ‘His Excellency ‘on account of the governor’s status.
It is also said that he goes about with police orderlies who barks orders and threatening perceived opponents with their guns. We are aware that the Inspector General of Police recently gave orders withdrawing police orderlies from some public officials. The insufficiency of the number of police men to manage crime makes this imperative but how well the instruction is respected remains another issue.
We are amazed at the action of the governor’s brother especially his temerity to take laws into his hands. Even though he has denied the accusation the fact is still not lost on the discerning members of the public especially when it is reported that he has assaulted a man previously in the not too distant past in the presence of his 9 year old son.
This reprehensible conduct is not expected from family members of public officials who rather are expected to exhibit good conducts that should promote the official position their relations occupy. They are expected to exhibit the highest degree of exemplary decorum because however they behave has a way of robbing off on the status of the high offices their relations occupy.
We reckon that journalists as members of the fourth estate of the realm are performing crucial roles that advances our democracy and by extension development. As the watch dogs of the society they should not be interrupted in their activities or cowed in any form. The constant harassment and bullying of journalists is a serious threat to our democratic norms and must be halted.
The government should provide all the necessary measures to protect the media men in the performance of their duties. Given the hazardous nature of the job and the circumstances they are now exposed to we call on them to take the appropriate steps to protect themselves collectively and individually. The roles they perform is crucial because it is in the collective interest of the members of the society.
News Echo wishes to observe that the incident in question provides the opportunity for government and law enforcement agencies to demonstrate their sincerity and commitment to protect the rights of the citizens to life.
We ask that the governor should order an investigation into the matter and allow the laws take its course so as to convincingly demonstrate his impartiality over the issue. He has sworn to protect Imolites against violations of their rights to life. We also call on the victim too to approach the police with a view to bringing the culprit to book so he could be punished as a deterrent to others.
Many hold the opinion that the police because of the connections of the individual involved lack the courage to prosecute the victim. The law we are told is no respecter of anyone and there should be no sacred cows in the execution of justice. Everybody is equal in the eyes of the law and the police as law enforcers should demonstrate this to the fullest.
Anything short is an invitation to anarchy and may provide justification for people to take laws into their hands on account lack of confidence on the part of government to protect them. At a time the police seemingly have lost confidence of the people in its services following serial attacks and burning of its stations it should be very objective in the performance of its roles.
News Echo wishes to remind the public especially the privileged government officials who have made the media object of destruction that no amount of attack, intimidation and harassment can hound the press. They should refrain from this dangerous path because violence is an ill wind that blows none any good.
Imo people want to see the law take its course and a demonstration of the fact that no one is above the law too, governor’s brother or not.