Sunday, 18 May 2014

News Release: CLO Condemns Arrest, Detention Of Nigerian Journalist

Okechukwu Obenta

On Thursday, 15th May 2014, Mrs. Njideka Oraedu, Managing Director, Anambra State Waste  Management Authority (ASWAMA) allowed her emotions to act before her brain and dealt a fatal blow to the noble footprints of the Governor Willie Obiano who has made positive impressions in the minds of Anambra people since March 17 , 2014.

On the orders of Mrs. Oraedu, Mr. Okechukwu Obenta, a senior journalist with the Source Magazine and Vice Chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Anambra State Chapter was beaten up, molested and bundled into a vehicle before he was detained at Central Police Station, Awka.

Obenta’s offence that warranted this unacceptable treatment was that he had the effrontery to take pictures of the carelessness of the ASWAMA officials who were busy arresting people and confiscating their wares for flouting the orders of the ASWAMA boss who declared an emergency but poorly publicized sanitation exercise on a Thursday morning.

The ASWAMA boss personally seized Mr. Obenta’s ipad and reportedly boasted that nothing will happen while allegedly creating the erroneous impression to the governor that Obenta was working for opposition politicians in the state.

Lord Acton in Historical Essays and Studies was right when he said that: “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.  Ambassador George Lodge in Havard Today once said also that “Power is the chief weapon of the ignorant” and we think that both sayings best captured the irrational behavior of Mrs. Oraedu.

To think of it, Mrs. Oraedu who has been at the helm of affairs before the advent of the present administration has been wobbling and fumbling in her assigned duties. While the agency under her watch was more interested in collecting revenues, different parts of the state became much filthier that some chided Anambra residents as people living like Bida pigs (Ndi Ezi Bida).
The situation remained like that until the Obiano administration decided to pick the gauntlet to give the state a practical aesthetic look. 

We also wonder where the ASWAMA chief derived her powers to declare an emergency sanitation day on a Thursday morning while relying only on the public address system of Aiza Nwosu to pass the message round the entire Awka metropolis on a Wednesday evening.

We condemn in strong terms the humiliating treatment meted out to journalist Obenta by the overzealous ASWAMA chief.  While trying to impress the governor or whatever may have been her motive, Mrs. Oraedu acted beyond her powers.

The arrest and detention of several people going about and engaged in their legitimate businesses and by the ASWAMA officials in connivance with the police was an unwarranted provocation, illegal detention and broad daylight extortion.

The new wind of change blowing in Anambra State is appreciated by all sundry but we sound the alarm that enforcement of any directive should be anchored on rule of law, respect for fundamental human rights and devoid of arbitrariness. 

We call for adequate sanctions on the ASWAMA MD and a new and continuous orientation for all field government officials engaged in any form of enforcement.  This includes road decongestion, waste disposal and any other government approved directives.

Comrade Aloysius Emeka Attah,
Chairman Civil Liberties Organisation, Anambra State Branch. 08035090548,

Comrade Chibueze Nwajiaku,
Secretary, Anambra State Branch, 07039055839

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