A political activist and social commentator, Ambassador Pascal Oluchukwu, has criticised Governor Dave Umahi of Ebnyi state for issuing an order banning all public officers and employees of the state from expressing opinion on government.
Oluchukwu, who is also the spokesman for the Organisation of Ebonyi State Indigenes in the Diaspora (OESID) said the order not only demonstrates Umahi’s lack of clear grasp of the letter and spirit of the Nigerian constitution, which swore to uphold and defend “but also brings to the fore his thoughtless sycophancy and ignominious search for the attention and gratuitous commendation”.
The spokesman for the governor on new media, Mr Francis Nwaze, had issued a statement warning all Ebonyi state government employees to refrain from making any uncomplimentary remarks against government, threatening outright dismissal of whoever floats the order.
But responding through a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, 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 of 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 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.”
He called on the governor to always respect the laws and regulations enshrined in the constitution.