The FCT Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has apologized to the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, over its earlier claims that he (Masari) was responsible for the arrest and detention of an Abuja-based journalist, Nelson Omonu.
In a statement late Sunday evening, the Council said it was misled on who was responsible for the Gestapo-like arrest of Mr Omonu from his residence in Abuja on Saturday, December 1, 2021.
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“We express our regrets to His Excellency Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina state over our earlier statement alleging he is responsible for the ordeal of our colleague, Mr Nelson Omonu.
“The confusion arose from information made available by family members, therefore, it is not the intention of the NUJ FCT to embarrass the governor and Government of Katsina State.
“We sincerely apologise to Governor Masari and appeal to him to accept this as one of the frailties of human endeavours,” a statement signed by Emmanuel Ogbeche and Ochiaka Ugwu, chairman and secretary of the council, respectively.
The Council while calling for the immediate release of the journalist, condemned the alleged role of the Vice-Chancellor of Federal University, Dutsin-ma, Katsina State, Prof. Armayau Hamisu-Bichi, in the arrest of the journalist.
The Council said its findings showed the journalist was allegedly arrested on the VC’s order for a story he did on sex-for-marks and admission racketeering at the university.
The Katsina State Government had faulted the Council’s allegation against Governor Masari, describing it as reckless and bereft of journalistic ethics.
In a statement issued to Journalists, the Director-General (Media) to the governor, Abdu Labaran Malumfashi, said neither the governor nor any official of the Katsina State government ordered the arrest or detention of any journalist, in Abuja or anywhere else.
“The attention of Katsina State government has been drawn to a press statement issued by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), FCT Council in which it accused Governor Aminu Bello Masari of ordering the arrest of one Nelson Omonu, who works for Summit Post Newspaper.
“The statement, which was issued today (Sunday) and jointly signed by Comrade Emmanuel Ogbeche and Ochiaka Ugwu, Chairman and Secretary of the Council, respectively, alleged that Nelson Omonu “was whisked away in a commando-style by security operatives believed to be working on the orders of Katsina State Governor Bello Masari”.
“As bad as the allegation is, the FCT NUJ went on to make degrading remarks about the security challenges bedevilling the state as if Katsina is the only state facing the menace of banditry.
“For the avoidance of doubt, and the purpose of putting the record straight, Governor Masari, or, for that matter, any official of Katsina State government, has not ordered for the arrest or detention of any journalist, in Abuja or anywhere else.
“Journalists working in Katsina State, and even a number of them working in other parts of the country, notably the FCT, will without prompting attest to the fact that Governor Masari is one of the most media-friendly public officials in Nigeria.”
“In our view, this reckless press statement by the leadership of FCT Council of the NUJ has exposed the bankruptcy of journalistic ethics among some members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm in the country. And the FCT Council is supposed to lead the rest of the councils across the nation,” the statement read.