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Your PRO's unruly behaviour could ruin your relationship with media in Anambra, journalists urge INEC


By Ifechukwu Okoye

The Correspondents' Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Anambra State Council, have sent a petition to the Federal Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Barr. Festus Okoye over what they termed unruly behaviour of the commission's State Public Relations Officer (PRO), Dr Kingsley Agu.

A copy of the petition signed by the Chapel's Chairman, Chief Chuks Ilozue and the Secretary, Mrs Tochukwu Ifejika, alleged that during the coverage of 2023 general elections in Anambra State, Agu unleashed the security operatives stationed at the INEC headquarters in Awka against the journalists especially the Bureau Chief ThisNigeria Newspaper, Mr Cajetan Mmụta.

The petition reads, "We the members of the afore mentioned union have resolved to officially communicate you in your capacity as the head of Voter Education and Publicity of growing incidences capable of endangering the existing working relationship between our members and INEC as orchestrated by the conducts of the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of INEC Anambra state, Dr Kingsley Agu.  We write to intimate you with the unwholesome and repulsive attitude of your  Public Relations Officer, Dr Kingsley AGU to journalists in Anambra State in general, and especially members of the Correspondents' Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists ( NUJ), Anambra State council. 

"To begin with, in the just concluded 2023 general elections, Dr AGU unleashed the security operatives stationed at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Awka against Journalists with special mention of Mr Cajetain Mmuta, the Bureau Chief of ThisNigeria newspaper during which Agu openly told the security operatives that they should be watchful of Journalists entering the commission as they equally could bring in Improvised Explosive Devises (IED) into INEC. 

"Considering the weighty nature of the unguided outburst by Agu, Mmuta wrote official compliant to you, but regrettably nothing has been heard from you over such immodest attack on not only the image of media professional, but on the corporate identity of Journalists. However, our concern swell due to several other reports by members during our March 2023 monthly meeting that Agu had at different times reported our members mala fide  to their offices , an act that has threatened and is still threatening the employments of our colleagues. 

"The above scenario in the case of Mmuta when added to many other compliants from respected  colleagues on how Dr Agu had  talked down on them and insulted them using unprintable words including threatening to issue queries to  Journalists and transferring them out of Awka is indeed very worrisome trend capable of jeopardizing the presumed good working relationship with the commission before now.. We therefore resolved to do this petition believing that you call Dr Agu to order to avert an avoidable rift that might erupt  between our members and your  esteem organisation.

" As you are fully aware,, the public relations department of any organisation is the mouth piece as well as the mirror of any organisation with the public.  As professionals in the media industry, we do not want to harbour ill feelings that Agu was doing the bidding of INEC as a body due to the presumed ignominy to Mmuta's earlier petition to your office dated March 16, 2023 and a copy attached herein. We therefore crave your indulgence to call the PRO  to order, if he must continue to interface between the Commission and the media  in Anambra as not acting in this direction might obviously snowball to something untoward in the near future."

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