Journalists at a press Conference addressed by the newly elected Delta State House of Assembly Speaker, Mr. Sheriff Oborevwori, on Thursday, revolted against the Speaker for preventing them from asking questions on the activities of the House. The press conference, which held at the Assembly Press Centre in Asaba, was organized to mark the second anniversary of the 6th Assembly.
It was the first press conference addressed by Mr. Oborevwori, who replaced the impeached Mr. Monday Igbuya.
Billed to start at 10 am, the press parley did not kick off until noon.
Trouble started after Mr. Oborevwori delivered his speech and entertained about five questions from hand-picked media establishments, including the state-owned media houses. The Speaker then announced he would no longer entertain questions and subsequently ordered an end to the event.
This sparked loud protests by journalists, who felt they had been denied the opportunity to gain insights into the activities of the House.
“The press conference is an avenue for us to ask salient questions about the Assembly. Why stop us from asking questions? Only deliberately selected journalists were allowed to ask questions. The rest were stopped. There is more to it,” a disaffected journalist said loudly.
Others joined in, shouting in protest. As the journalists’ voices grew louder, Mr. Mike Ekeogwu, newly elected Chairman of the Delta State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), intervened by asking the Speaker to allow more questions. His request was, however, turned down by Mr. Oborevwori.
On the issue of non-payment of two years’ furniture allowances to aides of lawmakers, the Speaker said it was not the business of journalists to know what the House was doing about the matter. He said it is the lawmakers’ business what they do to their aides.
The Speaker also spoke about the impeachment of his predecessor, describing it as unavoidable.
“I want to state here that as an arm of government, the House has undergone some challenges. But by God’s grace, we have scaled the hurdles. Despite the unavoidable change in the leadership of the House on 11 May, Deltans should rest assured that members are united more than ever to take on the task ahead. I wish to place on record that the 6th Assembly has performed credibly well by all standards.” Oborevwori said.
A senior staff of the House of Assembly told SaharaReporters that he wants journalists to forgive the Speaker, whom he said is not media-savvy.
“The Speaker had told his media aides that he is not adept at speaking publicly and it was agreed that after his speech, only a few journalists, especially from state-owned media organs, would ask questions. The plan from the beginning was to end the event after a few questions,” said the staff.