BY NWOGHA NDUBUISI, ABAKALIKI
Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Barrister Orji Uchenna Orji today warned fake and unverifiable news purveyors saying that it has caused alot of damage to the society.
Orji issued the warning in his office while briefing newsmen in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state capital.
He attributed the high spate of killings and hatred across ethnic divides as a result of inciting and Unverified social media posts.
The Information Commissioner while debunking the social media speculation accusing him of the detention but now hospitalized of the popular On Air Personality,AOP, and former Media Aide to the state Governor, Mr Godfrey Chikwere, popularly known as Baby Mouth, as a Journalist.
According to him:”My attention was drawn to a social media post andspeculation that my office was used to cause the detention of a practicing Journalist in Ebonyi state but I was to use this medium to categorically state that the person that’s be refer to who is Mr Godfrey chikwere is not a member of Journalist in Ebonyi state since I have confirmed from state Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, and they clearly stated that he was not a member of Journalist.
“But the truth of the matter is that as a Ministry of Information and State Orientation, in keeping with the mandate of ensuring orientation to the people as against bad habits and also in keeping with it’s duty in sensitizing the people and ensuring the implementation of Ebonyi state law on cyber crimes prohibition 2021 (which is law 012 of 2021) we had to swing into action by trapping any person spreading fake news on social media, publication or however, any other electronic means”.
“Incidentally, this said Godfrey Chikwere happened to be one of those that we found to be in the habit of posting fake information and spreading hate speech”
“As a matter of fact, Ebonyi state has passed a law on this and it’s my duty as the Commissioner for Information not only to sensitize members of the public but also ensure the implementation of that law because it thus concern information dissemination, and it happened that Godfrey Chikwere is one of the persons that’s a suspect”.
“Let me mention that we have had two cases were people who were seen circulating fake information were arrested and were quizzed and once premia facie was established and police has to do the needful”.
“We have had a case of PA to the vice Chancellor Ebonyi state University who is under this administration was arrested, quizzed and also charged to Court”.
“So, the case of Godfrey Chikwere can never be treated separately or exceptionally in this regard”
“I just want to urge members of the public to join us in the campaign against fake news and hate speech because it has been an evil wind that has really done alot of bad in the society. All of these killings and all of these hate issues here and there are as a result of social media post that are not true.
“Ebonyi state is an exceptional state because we’re in a haste to develop. As a young state and we wouldn’t like to involve in all those things that will bring about crisis, violence and distrust among states of the federation.
“We are committed in ensuring that we stepped out of challenges of hate speech and fake news in Ebonyi state”.
“Let me also mention that Godfrey Chikwere was once a staff of the civil service in the state and I can tell you that some times he had to pull out because of issue about his result. So, we are not trying to talk about his character but I can say that I have been having series of activities that’s anti development in nature and it’s our duty to find a way of bringing him to book”. he explained
When asked about the content of the publication that led to his arrest, the Commissioner said”The said Godfrey Chikwere published and stated among others that it is clear that if army is an arm of armed forces ,that the army is seriously and willingly loosen respect and that’s capable of discrediting integrity of the army and perhaps, of course you know the implications”.
“He also mentioned that politicians would get youths to kill persons or to murder persons and will return get them engage, will give them money to do business”.
“So, that kind of allegations are capable of causing political apathy in the state”. The Information Commissioner further noted that the police has done their work and enjoined the general public to remain calm until the accused person is tried according to the state law prohibiting hate issues.
“For politicians to begin to take advantage that Godfrey Chikwere was arrested to be peddling alot of rumors and castigating government. I want to tell them that Godfrey Chikwere is just like any person that could be invited by the police and that the law is not a respecter of anybody”.
Barr Orji also said that he was aware of the health situation of Mr Godfrey” I was not aware that he was hospitalized. I just seeing that in social media and very sure that when he was arrested,he was healthy”.
He, however, emphasized that the former media Aide to the sitting governor was not a Journalist but trying to curry cheap sympathy from the professional body.
Meanwhile, when our reporter visited the office of Ebonyi state Police Public Relation Officer, DSP Loveth Odah confided on us that she was going to see the accused person at the hospital and cannot make further clarification until relevant information are gathered.