Correspondents’ Chapel Nigeria Union of Journalists Anambra State Council have petitioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over unwholesome and repulsive attitude of its Public Relations Officer, PRO, Dr Kingsley Agu to them in the State.
The journalists asked the electoral umpire to call Agu to order to avert avoidable rift capable of erupting between their members and INEC.
In a petition titled, “Endangeering existing relationships between members of correspondent Chapel and INEC by Kingsley Agu, Public Relations Officer,” signed by the chapel’s chairman, Chuks Ilozue and Secretary, Mrs Tochukwu Ifejika, the chapel cautioned that disregarding the petition might snowball to something untoward in future.
The petition reads, “We the members of the afore mentioned union have resolved to officially communicate you in your capacity as the head of Voter Education and Publicity of growing incidences capable of endangering the existing working relationship between our members and INEC as orchestrated by the conducts of the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of INEC Anambra state, Dr Kingsley Agu.
“We write to intimate you with the unwholesome and repulsive attitude of your Public Relations Officer, Dr Kingsley AGU to journalists in Anambra State in general, and especially members of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists ( NUJ), Anambra State council.
“To begin with, in the just concluded 2023 general elections, Dr Agu unleashed the security operatives stationed at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Awka against Journalists with special mention of Mr Cajetain Mmuta, the Bureau Chief of ThisNigeria newspaper.
“Agu openly told the security operatives that they should be watchful of Journalists entering the commission as they equally could bring in Improvised Explosive Devises (IED) into INEC.
“Considering the weighty nature of the unguided outburst by Agu, Mmuta wrote official compliant to you, but regrettably nothing has been heard from you over such immodest attack, not only on the image of media professional, but on the corporate identity of Journalists.
“However, our concern swell due to several other reports by members during our March 2023 monthly meeting that Agu had at different times reported our members mala fide to their offices, an act that has threatened and is still threatening the employments of our colleagues.
“The above scenario in the case of Mmuta when added to many other compliants from respected colleagues on how Dr Agu had talked down on them and insulted them using unprintable words including threatening to issue queries to Journalists and transferring them out of Awka is indeed very worrisome trend capable of jeopardizing the presumed good working relationship with the commission before now.
“We therefore resolved to do this petition believing that you call Dr Agu to order to avert an avoidable rift that might erupt between our members and your esteem organisation. As you are fully aware, the public relations department of any organisation is the mouth piece as well as the mirror of any organisation with the public.
“As professionals in the media industry, we do not want to harbour ill feelings that Agu was doing the bidding of INEC as a body due to the presumed ignominy to Mmuta’s earlier petition to your office dated March 16, 2023.
“We therefore crave your indulgence to call the PRO to order, if he must continue to interface between the Commission and the media in Anambra as not acting in this direction might obviously snowball to something untoward in the near future.”
Meanwhile, INEC Resident Electoral Commission in the state, Mrs Queen Agwu on Friday barred journalists from covering presentation of certificate of return to House Members.
Journalists who were at the INEC headquarters in the morning ahead of the ocasion were turned black on the order of REC from covering the event .
The Acting Public Relations Officer PRO of INEC Dr Kingsley AGU in phone call hinted that madam REC would not entertain journalists in the day of certificate presentations.
“The REC had instructed me not allow journalists into the premise during the presentation,” he said.
All calls put to the REC and PRO, by the chairman of State correspondent chapel, Chief Chuks Iluzie were rejected.
Reacting to the incident, chairman of Anambra State Union of journalists NUJ, Dr Odogwu Emeka described the action as highly condemnble.
According to him, INEC remained a public institution that must be opened for journalists to cover.
He said, “Let me believe that the REC is not aware about what happened and if she was aware about the action it is highly condemnble. I’m sorry for INEC because it does not know what it is doing.
“Journalists are meant to cover public functions and presentation of certificate of return to house members is one of such events journalists should be allowed to report for the public to know what happened during the presentation.
“Today has been earmarked for presentation of certificate to those who won election at the just concluded house of assembly elections. Why should journalists be barred, is there anything personal in the presentation that they don’t want the public to know?
“REC should be able to know what is happening around her office. If she is unaware, there is no way the Police could turn back journalists who had came to do their legal jobs.
“The journalists are fourth estate of the realm,who should be respected. Constitutionally, the law allows them to hold the public Officers accountable. If the REC barred journalists, meaning there are things wrong they want to do at the presentation.”