Friday, June 19, 2020 4:28 pm
The Kogi State Government has dragged an online journalist Saint Meinpamo before a Federal High Court sitting in Yenegoa, the Bayelsa State capital. The journalist is facing trial over a publication that the government built a fallen Covid-19 Isolation Centre for N7 billion.
While testifying in the court on Thursday, Kingsley Fanwo, commissioner for information in Kogi state, described the story as untrue and intended to generate Ill will against the government. He said the information was not verified before usage.
Fanwo said he discovered a publication on May 2, 2020, crediting a news story to his boss Governor Yahaya Bello, saying he built a fallen Covid-19 Isolation Centre for 7 billion Naira.
“To us, the report was not only false, but a deliberate incitement against the Government and a big embarrassment to the Government and people of Kogi State and myself as the Chief Information Officer of the Government.
“By the publication, the defendant caused ill will towards the State Government and public tension. It portrayed our Government as being corrupt, insensitive and irresponsible. And he never verified the authenticity of the report before going to press to discredit the State Government with the false information.
“The fallen tent wasn’t even meant for COVID-19 cases. It was built for the isolation of Lassa Fever patients and it cost the Government less than 2 million naira.
“As a journalist myself, I am abundantly aware that our profession has ethics. The publisher betrayed the ethical standard of our profession by failing to verify the information before publication.”
The state rejected out-of-court settlement, saying the case is expected to serve as a standard for other journalists who violate ethics and publish falsehood.