Ebonyi state government yesterday reacted to the arrest and possible prosecution of Governor David Umahi’s former aide, Geoffrey Chikwere.
The commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Barrister Uchenna Orji, in his reaction said that Geoffrey’s social media posts have been anti development and that the state has to invoke the state cybercrime prohibition law 012, which he said was duly passed by the state Assembly and assented to by Governor David Umahi in September 2021.
He said that Geoffrey’s recent crime was a post he made on social media that the Nigerian Army was seriously and willingly losing respect. Also another post that politicians can pay a youth to murder a perceived political enemy but they can’t give such youth money to start a business. He said the posts were incisive.
Orji noted that Geoffrey was not the only person arrested to that effect, adding that PA to the Vice Chancellor of Ebonyi State University was also arrested and charged to court.
He said that Geoffrey, who was once a staff of the state government, is not a journalist, owing to the report from the state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists.
He added: “My attention has been drawn to a social media post that the office of the commissioner for information and state orientation, Ebonyi state caused the arrest and detention of a journalists in Ebonyi state. I want to use this opportunity to categorically state that the said Geoffrey Chikwere, is not a journalist.
“I had to confirm with the NUJ and the it clearly stated that he is not a journalist. The truth of the matter is that Information ministry in keeping with its mandate of ensuring the orientation of the people against all forms of bad habit and also in keeping with its duty of sensitizing the people in ensuring the implementation of Ebonyi state law on Cybercrime prohibition 2021 which is law 012 of 2021, we had to swing into action by ensuring that we track all persons that are spreading fake news either through publications or through any other electronic means.
“Incidentally, Geoffrey Chikwere, happens to be one of those we have found to be in the habit of posting fake information and also spreading hate speech.
“Ebonyi state government has passed a law on this and it is my duty as the state commissioner for Information not only to sensitize members of the public but to also ensure implementation of that law as it concerns information dissemination.
“We have two cases where people circulating fake information were arrested and detained, once a prima facie case is established we have to do the needful.
” We have a case of PA to the Vice Chancellor of Ebonyi state University who was arrested and charged to court. So the case of Chikwere will not be different.
“He was once a staff of the state government. His activities have been anti development and it’s our duty to find a way to bring him to book.
“Law no. 012 said that if you make a publication or any post in social media, in any electronic media whatsoever and that publication is capable of causing political apathy or bring about a negative feeling about a person or persons or a system then it goes to the issue of fake news.
” In this regard it doesn’t mean it must mention a particular person’s name. What we are trying to fight against is a situation where our youths will be brainwashed into taking arms and becoming violence, even going into crimes.
“The law was assented to by the Chief Executive on Sept 27, 2021. We have national act on cybercrime but what we did was to domesticate that very act and to ensure that it does operate in line with what we have as a state. This law was promulgated to ensure that hate speech, fake news are discouraged in Ebonyi state and it has come to stay.
“The needful was done in the house of Assembly, it passed from first to third reading, before the law was assented to.
Meanwhile, Godffery who is now Media Assistant to the Senator representing Ebonyi Central zone, Obinna Ogba, is currently battling for his life at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki(AE-FUTHA) after he reportedly fell sick at the police headquarters, Abakaliki where he was being detained.
He was said to be undergoing treatment at the state police clinic, police headquarters Abakaliki but reportedly not responding well to the treatment leading to his transfer to the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki(AE-FUTHA) where he is currently hospitalized.
Chikwere, popularly known as Baby Mouth a former Presenter at the state Radio Station, Ebonyi Broadcasting Corporation(EBBC), was arrested few days ago by the police following a petition against him by the state government for making a publication on his facebook handle which the government considered as offensive.
The Public Affairs Analyst and Social Critic was to be arraigned yesterday, by the police before the court to face charges against him but he was said to be in crisis following the sickness.
His wife, Onyinyechi, confirmed this to reporters in Abakaliki
She said “my husband fell sick yesterday night when he was in the police station. So, he became worst and the police clinic couldn’t handle it. He is here in FETHA since this morning.
“They couldn’t diagnose anything at the police clinic but he was in serious crisis. So, now we are in FETHA, from the explanations on what is wrong with him, I think it is acute appendisaisis but I don’t know yet”.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Loveth Odah said she was not aware that he was in AE-FUTHA and promised to go to the hospital to see him.