A political activist and social com entator, Amb. Pascal Oluchukwu has criticised the governor of Ebonyi state, Dave Umahi, for issuing a gag order banning all public officers and employees of the state government from expressing any opprobrium against the government.
Ambassador Oluchukwu, who is also the spokesman for the Organisation of Ebonyi State Indigenes in the Diaspora (OESID) said gag order not only demonstrates Governor Umahi’s lack of any clear grasp of the letter and spirit of the Nigerian constitution, which he (Governor) has sworn to uphold and defend “but also brings to the fore his thoughtless sycophancy and ignominious search for the attention and gratuitous commendation.”
The spokesman of the Ebonyi state Governor on New Media, Mr. Francis Nwaze, had issued a statement on behalf of the Governor warning all Ebonyi state government employees to refrain from making any uncomplimentary remarks against the person or government, threatening outright dismissal of whoever float the order.
But responding through a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Monday, the political activist said it is the right of every citizen of Nigeria to hold and express his opinion which he said the Nigerian constitution 1999 as amended has provided in chapter 4, Part 1 Section 33 (1) thus: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.
“Within the context of this constitutional provision, Governor Dave Umahi has got no power to deny the people of Ebonyi state from expressing their opinions on anything and anyone.
“There are libel legislations and security and confidentiality disclosures that are guided by the laws of the land and when anyone infringes on these provisions, the law would be the one to take its course and remedy the situation. But once there are justifiable grounds to hold and express an opinion on anyone, no government or governor should have the powers to truncate the guarantees enshrined in our constitution.”
Ambassador Pascal, however, called on the Ebonyi state governor to always respect the laws and regulations enshrined in the constitution.
The activist also warned that any attempt to silence the voices of Ebonyi people will be resisted vehemently without fear or favour.
“The intimidation on the good people of Ebonyi must stop; each and everyone is entitled to hold and express an opinion on anything. So, Governor Umahi, should stop the charade of banning Ebonyi public officers and employees from holding and expressing their opinions.
“It is part of their fundamental human rights guaranteed under the supreme laws of our country,” Pascal stated.