Delta State Government has allegedly barred a journalist, Barry Agbanigbi, from entering Government House over a story he wrote in July 2020, SaharaReporters has learnt.
The ban, which was said to have been issued since July 2020 by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa's Chief Press Secretary, Oliseh Ifeajika, followed a feature story on teenage prostitution in Asaba, the state capital, published on Page 10 of the state-owned newspaper (Pointer Newspaper) of Saturday, July 25, 2020, written by Agbanigbi.
The story titled “Shocker: Teenage Prostitutes Invade Asaba”, chronicled how teenage prostitutes had continued to invade the state capital from neighbouring states to carry out their activities.
A Government House source revealed that the journalist had been refused access to the place following the order by the governor's aide.
Narrating his ordeal, Agbanigbi said, “I was just about stepping into the hall for the usual government press briefing when I was stopped by a police sergeant, who said he was acting on orders from the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, restrained me from entering for the briefing. Since then, I have been denied access into the government house and every effort to reach the Chief Press Secretary has remained unsuccessful.
“My colleagues have met the Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, who promised to look into the matter. For weeks I have been unable to access the Government House. I don’t understand what he aims to achieve. I am quite surprised by his new character.
"Where is the much talked about press freedom? Nosa Akenzua was harassed out of the press centre in Government House recently by the same CPS. It took the intervention of some journalists and Commissioner for Information to calm the situation. We don’t know who the next victim will be.”
It was gathered that following the story, some top management staff of the state-owned Pointer Newspaper were issued queries for allowing such story that portrayed the state in bad light to be published in the medium.
When contacted over the issue, Ifeajika denied ever issuing any form of ban on Agbanigbi, saying he had no such powers.
He said, "Nobody barred him, he barred himself. He remains my friend. He comes to Government House. Nobody has stopped him. He is free to come to Government House.
“Barry wrote a report that all major roads in Asaba are ridden with black spots. That is not true. He published it in The Pointer. He doesn’t work for The Pointer. He didn’t publish it in his medium. In essence he is saying Asaba is ridden with criminals and prostitutes. I told him what he was trying to say was that Delta State was not safe.”