Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom has clarified the reason he reported Benue-born State House Correspondent of the Peoples’ Daily newspaper, Mr. Sunday Odeh to the police to understand some allegations the journalist wrote about him.
According to the governor, he reported the reporter to seek clarification after the journalist accused him of being responsible for the Bonta and Ukpete crisis in Konshisha and Oju Local Government Areas, LGAs.
In his words: “We appreciate the freedom of the press but we must respect decorum. We appreciate constructive criticism and superior arguments over my policies and programmes. An incident occurred last week where I reported one of our own, Odeh to the police. I need to mention it today more so that we are talking about press freedom week.
“For me, the press should be allowed to operate just like the arms of government. They should also have their freedom but it should not be at the detriment of the rule of law. I am somebody who respects the rule of law. I am in a democratically elected government where there is freedom of expression and association but it must be within the rule of law. Anything outside that is not the right thing to do.
“It was not my intention but it is my own way as the father of the state to correct anything that is wrong. There is no way a crisis that had existed even before I became governor can be caused by me; moreover I have taken all proactive steps to ensure peace in that place. “And then you go out to say that I am responsible for the crisis in that place, and that all the Igede speaking people in my government should resign because I and my government are irresponsible.
“There is nowhere in the records that we were irresponsible in carrying out our programmes and policies. So, all that I wanted was clarification. I do not know who Odeh is; even if I see him I will not know him or recognize him. So I have nothing personal against him.
“But he claimed that I am responsible for the Bonta and Ukpete crisis in Konshisha and Oju Local Government Areas, LGAs. So I wanted him to make clarification. Everyone could see that I did not do any other thing other than to report him to the police. I was told that he was arrested, his statement taken and granted bail within 24 hours.”
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