OGUN, Nigeria – Some journalists on Monday protested at the Ogun State House of Assembly for being barred from covering the probe of the former Managing Director of the Ogun State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC), Babajide Odusolu.
The state House of Assembly had said Odusolu would appear before it for a second time to defend alleged infractions in the audit report of OPIC under his watch.
But, a number of journalists who were at the assembly were not allowed into the committee room, venue of the probe.
Security agents said they were instructed to prevent reporters from covering the sitting.
The journalists, who were not satisfied with the development protested, claiming that they could not be barred from covering what should be a public event.
This situation led to a shouting match between the journalists and security agents, who were hellbent on blocking them from entering the venue of the probe.
OgeneAfrican learnt that the mild drama between the journalists and security agents attracted the attention of the Speaker, Olakunle Oluomo, who came out to defend the actions of the aides.
Oluomo, while reacting to the incident, said journalists must be accredited before covering the assembly, saying he does not want Ogun to be in the news for bad reasons.
He said he would not allow any reporter come into the house to embarrass, make noise or impose himself on the lawmakers.
His words: “If we are at plenary, you have the right to take permission before entering the plenary as accredited members of the press. You need accreditation. If you have not been given accreditation and you come, you only need to parley with the people in charge and they will recognise you and give you accreditation.
“We are not hiding anything here, but that is not to say somebody will just come up here start harassing us. I am a reporter myself. If someone will just come to our house here and you are embarrassing us, making noise and saying you want to impose yourself on us, it is not done anywhere. I am a professional myself. I grew from a reporter to a publisher myself. You cannot harass me on that. If you have issues, approach the appropriate person. We have the House Committee on Information.
“You cannot go to America and say you want to enter any House of Assembly without accreditation. It is not done!
“A lot of bloggers are there making a lot of noise and you know the case we are handling now, the person we are handling his case, or let me say the other way around, they are bringing a lot of influence here. And we don’t want Ogun to be in the news for bad reasons.
”If you want to be part of us get accredited. If you are 100, I will give you the opportunity. But, you can’t just pump yourselves in here. I will not allow that. The rule of the house which I inherited will not allow me to do that. If you want to cover, do it under the normal procedure and law. Get yourself accredited and you don’t make noise here!” Oluomo declared.
When the Speaker was told that this was not the first time journalists would come to cover the Ogun Assembly, Oluomo agreed.
However, he said: “Circumstances differ, condition changes. Look at what was in the news the other time that this case was going on. I just said don’t answer them, let them flow. But I am not going to give anybody any fillip to start flying over the house. We are doing our constitutional assignment here, but if people are bringing politics into it, I am not bringing politics into it,” he stated.