Fear griped Ebonyi residents and political office holders on Wednesday as the Independent National Electoral Commission, REC in the State, barred journalists from covering a media briefing held at the Commission’s Secretariat in Abakaliki.
This was coming barely 24hrs the Ebonyi State House of Assembly directed INEC to conduct a by election to fill the three seats declared vacant by the House on Tuesday.
Also, in his recent judgement in the Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Inyang Ekwo, directed members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to send names of those that would replace Governor David Umahi and his Deputy, Dr. Eric Kelechi Igwe, to INEC for issuance of certificate of return after the court had sacked them for defecting from PDP to APC.
Following the political developments in the State, political office holders are already agitated over the next action that would be taken by INEC, as there have been indications that the Commission might obey the directives of Abuja Federal High Court and the state assembly.
This made journalists in the state to visit the INEC Secretariat Abakaliki when news filtered in that the commission had already concluded plans to brief the press.
On getting to the Commission at about 11.15 am when Correspondents covering various Media Organization in the State gathered at the Conference Hall of INEC for the briefing billed to hold by the State Resident Electoral Commission /REC.
The State INEC Administrative Secretary Mr Clement Oha, summoned the Journalists to his office and blatantly told them to their chagrin that the scheduled briefing was not for massive coverage.
According to him, “the Commission does not need the massive coverage of its activities ,we dont need this whole press”.
Addressing members of the Correspondent Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Ebonyi State Council, the Vice Chairman of the Chapel, Comrade Uchenna Inya expressed dismay over the action of the Commission.
Comrade Inya said that the Commission cannot work effectively without the partnership of journalists in the State and called on the Chairman of the Commission, Prof Mahmud Yakubu to call the Resident Electoral Commission, Ebonyi State to order.
He stated that should the commission continue with such unprofessional disposition, Correspondents Chapel will not hesitate to henceforth boycott all INEC programmes and acivities in the State.