Mystery magazine causes stir in Abia, lawmakers launch investigation

Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 14 December 2012 | 4,308 times

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The mysterious emergence on the newsstands of Weekly Details, a newsmagazine believed to have been rested five years ago, is causing ripples and disquiet in government circles in Abia State, South-East Nigeria.

The magazine disappeared after the death of its Publisher, Mr. Sam Kalu, about five years ago but suddenly reappeared two weeks ago to the amazement of even the Editor, Mr. Chidi Ikeotuonye. The controversial edition put Abia State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dr. Eze Chikamnayo, on the spot. Dated December 5, 2012, the muckraking magazine has as its cover story: “Chikamnayo: Abia Reckless Commissioner.”

The publication which sold like hot cake and was read like the Bible in several quarters, served sizzling, sensational, lurid details of alleged misdeeds of the commissioner. It alleged, among other things, that the commissioner treats government files in an hotel in the state capital, Umuahia, and plants negative stories against the state government.

Other details include the commissioner’s running battle with staff of National Ambassador newspapers, a parastatal under his ministry, as well as his alleged “dirty past” during his first coming as Commissioner for Information under immediate past Governor Orji Uzor Kalu.

News Express gathered that the commissioner allegedly, in a swift fashion, mopped up all copies of the magazine he could lay his hands on in Umuahia.

It was also gathered that a vendor popularly called Vimo who distributed the magazine, saw a brisk business opportunity on the horizon and ordered fresh supplies, of which he intimated the commissioner and reportedly reached a deal with him. However, what offered hope as a rosy business turned sour for the vendor as he was picked up by men of the State Security Service (SSS) at the commissioner’s office where he had gone to deliver more supplies for fat cash.

The SSS, it was learnt, decided to arrest Vimo to help them in their investigation after their checks revealed that all addresses in the magazine were not traceable.

The vendor spent about six days in the cell of the SSS before he regained his freedom and is believed to have made useful statements to the security operatives.

Already, Abia State House of Assembly has launched an investigation to unravel the source and motive of the publication.

The lawmakers waded into the matter based on the weight of a petition fired by concerned citizens whose names were not made public.

The legislative inquiry began Tuesday with the commissioner, the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Cosmos Ndukwe, the Editor of the magazine and Chief Uche Aja, the Publisher of Newsbearer magazine, summoned to appear before the House Committee on Public Petitions, headed by the Leader, Barrister Chidiebere Nwoke. However, newsmen were not allowed to witness what transpired between the Committee and those summoned.

Sources said Dr. Chikamnayo is accusing the Chief of Staff of sponsoring the publication.  

Mr. Ikeotuonye, who was seen at the Assembly complex, probably to answer the summon, told newsmen that he was surprised at the emergence of the magazine which has been out of circulation since the death of the publisher and denied having a hand in the production of the current edition.

There are palpable fears that heads may roll if the Assembly gets to the root of the matter.

Photo: Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dr. Eze Chikamnayo, who was savaged by the mystery publication.

Source: News Express

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