Dave Umahi, Ebonyi state Governor has expressed displeasure over reports from two national dailies that there was panic in Ebonyi State over rumour of the transfer of some Boko Haram inmates from Ekwulobia Prisons in Anambra to Abakaliki Prisons.
Umahi said he was surprised that almost 48 hours after he addressed a live press conference denying the rumour, the newspapers still went ahead to publish falsehood.
Umahi maintained that at the news conference, he unequivocally stated: “One of the few issues some of you journalists sent me text messages was that Boko Haram prisoners in Anambra State prisons, according to them have been relocated to Abakaliki prisons.
“That was a very bad news for me and I said Father, still help me to overcome this challenge. I started making phone calls but at the end of the day, it turned out to be false news. We need to be very careful because that was capable of disintegrating the state and inflicting fears in our people.
“So, we need to screen information we are getting and one of them (journalists) said a prison official told him but that was not cautious. So, there is nothing like that. Our people should go about their normal business. If such a thing were to happen, what were the criteria that would make Ebonyi State qualify to host such high calibre criminals; the prison space is not there; security is not there; and Ebonyi is too small a place and of course, the governor must be informed as the Chief Security.
“So, I want to tell our people there won’t be such because Ebonyi is not ripe at all to harbour Boko Haram prisoners and we will not harbour them in Jesus name.”
“It is therefore utterly disappointing that the newspapers still went ahead to publish the falsehood.
“While I agree that rumours are a veritable source of information for journalists, rumours must be verified and when not true must be ignored.
“Abakaliki prisons are within the capital city and therefore should not have taken the newspapers more an hour after His Excellency made the denial to authenticate his comment.
“Strangely, one of the newspapers still went ahead to repeat the falsehood in its Sunday edition.
“The story in the two editions (Saturday and Sunday) states in paragraphs eight and nine, that the newspaper spoke with the Commissioner in charge of the state Police Command, Peace Abdallah and the Spokesman for the Abakaliki Prisons, Mr Frank, who said they were unaware of such development.
In Paragraph 10, the same newspaper quoted Anamabra State Governor Willie Obiano as saying that the 47 inmates in Ekwulobia Prisons were taken out of the South-East. We therefore ask, is Abakaliki no longer in the South-East?
“Going by the statements by Governors Umahi and Obiano as well as Abdallah and Frank, a discernng mind would know that the rumour isn’t true.
“I hereby restates my call to all residents of and travelers to Ebonyi State to go about their normal business without fear.”