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Epia is a Politician Hiding Under Journalism to Defame Me - Nwulu

My attention has been drawn to media reports citing claims by Oke Epia, a politician and publisher of Order Paper stating that I am using the Nigerian Police to attack or persecute him. This is false.

Epia is not a journalist but a political hatchet man simply doing the bidding of his sponsors under the umbrella of the press. He has been whipping up sentiments, hiding under the false allusion that he is a journalist and tagging media houses both locally and abroad. But the truth is, he is not a journalist. He is a politician that has held political office as the Chief Press Secretary to Emeka Ihedioha, the incumbent governor and my rival during the last governorship elections in Imo State.

I have a lot of respect for journalists and the media as the fourth estate of our democracy, especially in the face of the risk that they undertake on a daily basis to keep us informed. I say this with special tribute to the late Precious Owolabi, a corper who served as a correspondent with Channels TV but was shot dead while on duty.

The Not Too Young to Run bill that I sponsored enjoyed the greatest media support because of the tireless efforts of journalists who supported me. But I charge journalists to device means of identifying those I call wolves in journalist's skin. As a major stakeholder and beneficiary in journalism, I can never undermine a journalist. I believe in freedom of the press.

Rogues claiming to be journalists must be identified and shamed. Some are nothing but grant hunters that set up projects to defraud unsuspecting development partners and NGOs. Journalists must be careful to identify those that are truly their colleagues otherwise such individuals will undermine the daily sacrifices being made by genuine journalists across the world who leave their families unsure if they will return alive and others who fled their countries and are today exiled because they dared to speak the truth. No one should be allowed to rubbish their sacrifices, certainly not a criminally minded fellow.

I am aware Epia has equally alleged that I have issued threats to his life. Nothing could be further from the truth and I challenge him to produce any evidence of such threats. These are barefaced lies calculated to court public sentiments.

I am the one who went to the Police. I did this to exercise my constitutional rights as someone who has been defamed under the guise of "journalism". I reported this issue to the Police because of the weight of the allegations made against me. These allegations are unsubstantiated and no responsible media house anywhere in the world should use words like "missing funds" or "tens of millions" without any shred of evidence to back up such claims. It is against the tenets of professional media practice just as it is a common principle of law that he who alleges must prove.

It is my hope that at the end of this whole process, the law takes its course and the truth is allowed to prevail. I also hope that this will serve as an incident that enriches broad conversations around the professional ethics that guide the practice of real journalism.


Hon. Tony Nwulu

31st July 2019

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