The editorial crew of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondents in Bayelsa have been barred from the coverage of activities marking the 6th anniversary of Governor Seriake Dickson in office.
The incident according to media managers of the Bayelsa government is due a NAN report on build-up activities to the 6th anniversary scheduled to climax on February 14 which the Information Commissioner considered ‘negative’
Commissioner for Special Projects, Mr. Fred Obua had slumped on January 30 at the Inter-ministerial briefing component of the ceremonies held at the Gabriel Okara Cultural Center.
Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Commissioner of Information who was also at the occasion threatened that any journalist who reported the incident would be ‘sanctioned and dealt with’ and ‘banned from Bayelsa’.
Media aides to the Information Commissioner who spoke against the reportage had boasted that they were instructed to exclude NAN from subsequent Bayelsa government activities over the report which found its way into some national dailies.
Two NAN correspondents deployed to cover a press conference on Friday night were turned back at the government house venue of the event.
NAN had earlier on Friday been put on the list of media outfits expected at the event but later reportedly removed by aides to the Commissioner who claimed to be acting under instructions.
According to one of the security at the gate, "we will not allow you guys to go inside because NAN is not in this list for the program."
"You people have to leave here immediately or face the consequences; this is the list we have and that is the only one.”
The Commissioner for Information drove to the Bayelsa government house gate at that moment and was approached by the Correspondents who were at the verge of being thrown out by the security operatives.
“You people should go and check your names on the list with the security men, they are the ones to clear,” Iworiso-Markson said.
A reporter with one of the national newspapers who spoke in confidence for fear of being victimized condemned the stance of the government media managers.
“This is very bad development, a situation that you victimize a journalist from writing reports from events at public places, the story in question was a true account, it is against the principle of freedom of expression."
“If they can do this to NAN, then it means they can do worse to less reputable media establishments and who will stand in defense of press freedom? It is very unfortunate,” the reporter said.