…AS POLICE REMANDS UTITOFON MORGAN ON FALSE CHARGES, TARGETS MORE JOURNALISTS
…MEDIA COMMUNITY, COMMUNICATION LECTURER SPIT ON AKPABIO OVER ARREST
By Victoria Ekere, Uyo
A seething anger is growing by the second within the media community in Akwa Ibom State following the arrest and detention of popular blogger Utitofon Morgan Ukpong of the Sittipe fame on the orders of the Senator representing Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, Mr Godswill Akpabio, as part of his continuous onslaught on media practitioners in the state.
Investigations by DailyMail Newspaper reveal that Akpabio’s order for the arrest and detention of Mr Utitofon Morgan is misdirected as the story which the popular blogger is persecuted for captioned “CBN probes Akpabio’s N865b unrecorded deposits in 3 banks” was published by a certain online Newspaper known as “The Fact Reporters”.
Angered by the revelations made in the story, the Senator is said to have asked his Media Aide Anietie Ekong to guess who owns the Facts Reporters and the Media aide who apparently had some scores to settle Mr Utitofon Morgan dropped the bloggers name.
It was gathered that Akpabio immediately ordered one of the lawyers in his chambers, a certain Patrick Umoh, esq. to forward a petition to the Police demanding for the immediate arrest and detention of Mr Utitofon Morgan, who, our credible checks has shown does not have any link with the Facts Reporters.
At the moment, Utitofon Morgan is being held at the State Police Headquarters Ikot Akpan Abia on the orders of Mr Akpabio on the false charge of defamation to Akpabio’s character.
In the meantime, members of the Akwa Ibom Media community have reacted to the arrest and detention of a Utitofon Morgan calling it a clear decision by Mr Godswill Akpabio to draw a battle line with journalists and other media practitioners in Akwa Ibom State insisting that the Senator by this latest onslaught on the media community was forcefully reminding them of the reign of terror and intimidation which media practitioners operated in during his tenure as Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
“You can recall that during Akpabio’s tenure, those of us who were vocal critics of his administration and policies were marked for assassination. Our colleagues in the Global Concord Newspaper had to print their Newspapers at night. Have you even forgotten that a Communication Professor, Des Wilson recently narrated how Akpabio almost succeeded in assassinating him?
Or have you also forgotten the harassment and detention Akpabio unleashed on fresh facts newspaper and Imeime Jerome for publishing a story about his government.
The National body of NUJ had revolted and wanted to declare Akpabio a persona non grata, save for the intervention of notable journalists like ray Ekpu? No, you should not forget. Well, tell him and Anietie Ekong that they have failed. The same Anietie Ekong who is on the side of Akpabio and encouraging him to mow down journalists was a practicing journalist in this country. Tell him to be prepared to kill us” Akaninyene Udo, a journalist told the Daily Mail Newspaper.
Reacting to the development, a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication at the Akwa Ibom State University who spoke to the Daily Mail Newspaper on conditions of strict anonymity said it was worrisome that politicians would signal out journalists and media practitioners for outright intimidation and attack, saying this was a bad signal for democracy and free society.
“Everywhere around the world, journalism has continued to remain as the conscience of the society and in cases where people feel offended or angered by publications in the media, there are extant procedures for the ventilation of this sort of grievances. Giving orders and using the apparatus of the police to intimidate and harass journalists by people who have been conferred with statuses through the work of journalists and media practitioners is a bad omen for the society. People who do this should be seen as enemies of the media community”.