If Nigerians did not protest against the anti-social media law sponsored by Bala Ibn Na’allah, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress from Kebbi State that made the Senate throw out the bill into the dustbin, Yahaya Bello, Kogi State governor, would have been one of Nigeria’s toughest governors towards journalists. One would have thought that being the youngest governor in Nigeria, is his age pushing him presently to be going astray?
Bello was recently quoted in a broadcast to have vowed to deal with any journalist writing or publishing negative stories against his government. Can somebody say the governor is fulfilling his promise to suppress the media in the state by embarking on the arrest of a journalist? What the governor should focus on is how to ensure he delivers the good governance to Kogi people having looked at his mates who are not fortunate to be governor at his age. In case Yahaya Bello fails to study Nigerian constitution before becoming the governor, Barrister Mohammed Ibrahim, the Attorney General and
Commissioner for Justice in the state should kindly educate and call the governor to order. Why I embark on this piece is to speak out against the continued detention of a publisher of one community-based newspaper in Kogi State, Mr. Friday Ogungbemi by men of Department of State Services, DSS in Kogi State who was alleged to have published a negative story against Bello’s government on November 23- December 15, 2016 edition of the magazine.
Ogungbemi was later arrested and he is currently spending 6 days in the custody of the state officials of DSS. Despite protest and letters written by the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to Hon. Bello, the governor has turned a deaf ear to it by ensuring Ogungbemi suffers for the offense he had committed. In the said publication, Ogungbemi was said to have focused on the Chief of Staff to the governor of Kogi State, Edward Onoja. The article had criticized Onoja, describing him as overzealous and acting as if he was the governor of the state.
Let me quickly urge Mr. Bellow to read and internalize chapter four of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria, which gives liberty to freedom of expression. The young Kogi State governor should not have allowed himself to be misled by sycophants, considering the factor that led to his emergence as governor of Kogi State.
Being the former President of Kogi Youth Arise Forum, one must surely know that the governor was once a realist and fighter. In case Bello has forgotten history, he should be reminded that journalists contributed immensely to his victory.
Also, with the teeming support from youths across the state to lead Kogi into a brighter future, Bello presented himself to vie for the position of Governor in the gubernatorial election of 2015 under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). His mandate however came about after the death of Audu Abubakar, the winner of the 2015 Governorship elections who died of a heart attack shortly after the declaration of the election results announcing him the winner.
An appeal filed by James Faleke, the running mate to the deceased APC governorship candidate in Kogi State, Abubakar Audu, aimed at nullifying the adoption of Yahaya Bello as the APC candidate in the state’s governorship election, was dismissed by the Appeal Court at Abuja and Supreme Court respectively. With this, Bello should see himself as governor for all the people in Kogi State and stay away from what could dent his government image.