Year of Mixed Fortunes for Media

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Onyima Gov. Willie Obianos representative launching the book Paragon of Journalism

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By Olu Ojewale  |

THE media had mixed fortunes in 2014. It won and lost. The bad fortune started with Ebere Wabara, associate editor of The Sun newspaper, being abducted from his Surulere, Lagos home on March 28, by men of the Abia State Police Command, who later took him to Umuahia, Abia State, in handcuffs. The police later slammed him with a 10-count charge bordering on seditious publications against Governor Theodore Amaefule Orji of Abia State.

On June 25, the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, lost one of its own when a bomb blast which rocked Emab Plaza, Abuja, killed Suleiman Bisalla, managing editor of New Telegraph newspaper. Bisalla had gone to repair his mobile telephone at the complex when the incident happened.

Wabara
Wabara

Also, 14 journalists were abducted in Warri, Delta State by suspected a group of Ijaw militants led by Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo, on Sunday, November 16. The 14 journalists, alongside six members of the Ogidigben community were returning to Warri when they were accosted by a horde of fierce looking youths suspected to be militants around Oporoza community. The journalists and their hosts were returning from Ogidigben, where they attended a press conference addressed by the Itsekiri community of Ugborodo on the groundbreaking of $16 billion Delta gas city project to be sighted in the area. The journalists said they were held face down while one of them was forced to hold an AK 47 rifle pointing at them while their pictures were taken. They were held for several hours before being released.

Akpan
Akpan

President Goodluck Jonathan ordered a full investigation into the matter and Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan apologised for the incident. He said in a statement: “I owe it a duty and responsibility as chief executive of Delta state to apologize to Nigerians in the incident that 14 journalists were held hostage, I dare say it is unfortunate, condemnable that those who were involved in the abduction of the journalist will soon be brought to book.”

In middle of June, there was a three-day siege on circulation vans in Abuja. Throughout the three days the military harassed, assaulted and seized some national newspapers resulting in loss of millions of Naira.

Oyo
Oyo

On September 6, the NGE lost Dimgba Igwe, a columnist and vice chairman of the SUN Newspaper and a fellow to the cold hands of death when he was killed by a hit and run driver near his Okota residence, Lagos. It was the turn of Realnews to mourn on September 30, when Mike Akpan, editor-in-chief of the online publication died after a brief illness. Akpan was a fellow of the NGE.

Also on October 1, Remi Oyo, former managing director of the News Agency of Nigeria, died of cancer related illness. Oyo was also a former president of the Guild.

But it was not all that bad in the media in the year. On November 19, Realnews magazine rolled out the drums to celebrate its second anniversary at Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Ikeja, Lagos. It also unveiled of its book; “Paragon of Journalism.” The event attracted many dignitaries across all walks of life.

Between November 7 and 9, the Nigerian Media Merit Awards was hosted by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State in Owerri, the state capital city. Thereafter, Diamond Awards for Media Excellence was held in Lagos on Saturday, November 22 as well as the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative journalism which took place in December. He awards saw many journalists smiling home with different prizes.

— Jan. 5, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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