*jeopardizes fate of 18 families sacked by floods in Ideani
The incumbent governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has reportedly ordered all his top aides including Commissioners to desist from any form of media interviews or interaction.
The development came as the November 18, 2017 Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC)-scheduled Anambra State gubernatorial election fast draws nearer, and the competition clearly becomes stiffer and perhaps more obvious.
He was also alleged to have issued a restriction order on all journalists from entry into his office or the Governor’s Lodge to cover any activity, except those from the state-owned media establishments.
This came to the fore when other journalists were stopped entry by security men attached to the office of the governor who disclosed that it was a directive from the Governor.
The only ones permitted were journalists from the state-owned media houses who were accredited to cover activities of the governor’s office, and Channels Television which has a subsisting contract with the state government were allowed in.
The security men said they were on strict order to restrict ‘outside’ journalists from entry into the governor’s lodge henceforth, till after the forthcoming governorship poll.
Sources close to the state’s seat of power revealed that Obiano reportedly banned his commissioners and aides from granting interviews till after the governorship election.
He explained that the journalists restricted were because they were fond of taking unauthorized pictures of the governor when he closes eyes to pray at functions.
That these pictures had been found to be later used to blackmail him often in the social media network.
Obiano, our investigation revealed, had issued the restriction orders to his kitchen cabinet staff at an enlarged state executive council meeting recently.
He insisted that on no account should they release any information to journalists without obtaining a written permission from the state’s Commissioner for Information and Communication Strategy, Ogbuefi Tony Nnacheta.
Sadly attempts were made by journalists who visited no fewer than five different ministries including those of Works and Environment.
The journalists wanted to obtain emergency information and reactions from the respective commissioners concerning the recent havoc by flood.
The flooding was reportedly caused by poor channelization to the homes of citizens at Ideani (Idemili North Council), and Arthur Eze Road, Awka (Awka South Council).
The newsmen were told to go first obtain written permission from Chief Nnacheta, who the governor mandated to speak on behalf of the administration.
According to one of them, “I cannot grant you interview until you obtain permission from the Commissioner of Information, Chief Nnacheta.
“He is the only person authorized to speak on our behalf.
“The governor said he is the man to grant us permission before we can speak with any media man that is not working in the state-owned media houses.
“If he approves it, he would minute your letter to me or even give me a call. That is what your colleagues are doing.
“That is the latest development because of the 2017 gubernatorial poll. It may stop later. So, I am sorry, I can’t grant you any interview”, the Commissioner emphasized.
This reporter, together with other state Correspondents of other media establishments, was also restricted from entering the Governor’s Lodge.
They were to cover the recent Certificate of Recognition presentation to the new traditional ruler of Nanka, even after identifying themselves properly.
The security men at the gate insisted that they would only allow anyone entry if they get a gate pass from any of Obiano’s Senior Special Advisers (SSA) on Media, or drop their cameras with them at the gate as instructed by the governor.
Both the state Commissioner for Information, Nnacheta, and the Governor’s Special Adviser (SA) on Political Affairs, Chinedu Obidigwe, and the SSA on Social Media, Ifeanyi Aniagoh declined comment on the issue.
James Eze, who is one of the governors many SSA on Media, however, claimed that only journalists restricted from entry into governor’s Lodge (turned office) were the ones not yet accredited by his team.
“You cannot go into the Governor’s Lodge (cum office) if you’re not accredited.
“You can send me your email so that I can forward to you whatever information or pictures you want,” Eze said.
Incidentally no journalists in the state had ever been so accredited or challenged for same in the last three years of the governor’s administration, till now.
Sadly no one was ready to comment or react to the sacking of 18 families in Umuoduba village, Ideani in Idemili North LGA by the torrential rains that flooded their houses, pulling down walls, culverts, gates, graves and sacred grooves.
The family homes according to one of the victims, Mr Ben Adimba were submerged overnight by the high flood current which overflowed the drainage channels because it was blocked by debris. So the flood, seeking right of passage jumped its hedges and pulled down the family compound walls, gate and into the entire premises.
Taking journalists round the place, he showed flooded sitting rooms, rooms, kitchens and foodstuff, electronics, beddings and other home appliances damaged in the process.
No government official has reacted or commented on the unfortunate incident, while the victims have continued to roam in search of assistance.
He thanked God that no life was lost. It was similar story in other families around. They urged the Gov Obiano to direct proper channelization in the area so that floods stop wreaking havoc in the community annually.
It was same story along the Arthur Eze Avenue in Awka yesterday when the rains flooded most shops along the popular avenue, rendering most goods including computers, shoes, wears and printing materials worth millions of Naira useless.
The chairman of the traders, Mr Amechi Okeke in a Save Our Soul (SOS) call to the governor to come to their rescue. He pleaded with him to hasten the pace of the drainage works along the area so as to limit such sad experiences and huge losses.
He appealed for immediate assistance to the victims, as well as some remedial measures to help them.