- A BBC correspondent yesterday was banned from working at state institution by the government of the northern Nigerian state of Borno, following "incorrect reporting" about the region. Also in the southern Nigerian state of Ebonyi, a journalist has been barred from entering the grounds of Government House because he had demonstrated sympathy for the opposition party.
The Borno state government in northern Nigeria yesterday declared the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) Hausa Service correspondent, Alhaji Adamu Mato, a "persona non grata" and banned him from continuing to report from the state following allegations of "incorrect" reporting about the region.
The government has banned the correspondent from the state's Government House in the state capital, Maiduguri, and all government institutions, ministries and parastatals, in addition to public functions, according to reports from the Lagos-based Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a Nigerian media watchdog group.
The ban on Mr Mato was outlined in a statement issued by the State Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Mohammed Al-Amin Kamselem. The commissioner said the order to restrict the correspondent from working in the state was the result of a resolution passed by the State House of Assembly on 20 November, urging the government to "urgently replace Mato in the interest of the people and objective journalistic reporting."
The resolution, according to Commissioner Kamselem's statement, called on the executive arm of government to, "disallow the affected correspondent from having access to any of the government institutions or public functions," to prevent the recurrence of subjective reporting by the BBC. It claimed that Mr Mato's reporting could destabilise the democracy that Nigerian citizens have fought to build and sustain.
Commissioner Kamselem said that, despite the ban, a replacement would be accepted by the state government as it had no grudge against the BBC as an organisation or any of its affiliates. All of Bornu state's security agencies have been informed of the order against the correspondent and advised to take any necessary action in the event of a breach of the ban, according to MRA.
The controversial move in Bornu state came only one day after the MRA reported a parallel attack on the press in the southern Nigerian state of Ebonyi. Also here, a journalist was banned from state institutions as the Ebonyi government disagreed with the profile of the professional's writings.
Chris Nsi, Ebonyi State correspondent for the 'New Age' newspaper, was barred indefinitely from entering the grounds of Government House in Abakaliki, the seat of government in Ebonyi state, which is controlled by the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP).
The order to bar Mr Nsi from Government House was reportedly delivered to security operatives attached to the premises last weekend through Collin Agbo, personal assistant to Ebonyi State Governor Sam Egwu. The measure was taken because Mr Nsi allegedly exhibited partisan sympathy for the opposition All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
Recounting the origins of his ordeal, Mr Nsi said, "The development followed the recent interview granted to me by the state secretary of the ANPP, Chief Joseph Ugwu, that was published on page 15 of the 2 November edition [of the 'New Age' newspaper]. The personal assistant [to the governor] confronted me on 12 November and accused me of aligning with the ANPP to malign the image of Governor Sam Egwu, especially now that he is interested in the presidency come 2007."
- However, I made efforts to explain my position as a journalist to him, but all to no avail, Mr Nsi told the MRA. "I have also reported the case to the State Commissioner for Information, Dr John Out, who is yet to respond," he added.
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