Journalist Alleges Threat To Her Life Over Story Against Former Minister’s Company

Captain Emmanuel Ihenancho
Captain Emmanuel Ihenancho

A freelance broadcast journalist, Augustina Armstrong-Ogbonna has alleged threat to her life by a former Minister of State for Interior and Executive Director, Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, Captain Emmanuel Ihenancho for exposing the dredging activities of his company at Irede community close to Apapa which has allegedly caused cracks in houses in the area.

Armstrong-Ogbonna, a multimedia and award winning journalist noted that the dredging was part of plans to build a mini refinery on the island by the former Minister but no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was done before the project began.

“On the 5th of February I went to Irede community close to Apapa to investigate a complaint about how a dredging activity was impacting on the community. I met with some executives of Irede Community Developers’ Association who told me how, in 2014, the Executive Director of Integrated Oil and Gas and Former Minister of Interior Captain Emmanuel Ihenancho bought a piece of land bordering Irede community,” Armstrong-Ogbonna said.

“Ihenancho told the community leaders that he wants to build a mini-refinery and jetty. He started dredging at the last quarter of 2015 and they said this has affected buildings close to the shoreline. I saw houses with cracks on the wall and floor of a house almost caving in.

“On the 7th of February, I got in touch with Captain Ihenancho through a phone call and he cut the call and said he was in a meeting. I called again on the 8th of February and told him about the allegations against his operations at Irede community. He said he was in London and that I shouldn’t mind those complaining because they are blackmailers.

“I detailed the allegations against his operations at Irede community and if he had an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the project. He became defensive and said he has a land close to Irede community and was dredging. That how can the dredging be affecting buildings in the community. He said if he has an EIA or not, is it the business of the community? “Are they the authorities?” he asked.

“He said he has been an object of blackmail in the past and will not accept any form of blackmail. That he wanted to bring an investment that will create job opportunities. He asked me how the matter in Irede community concerns me and I told him because I am a journalist that is how its concern me. He warned me not to publish any story or else I will put myself in the firing line. He threatened to visit my office and meet with my editor when he returns to Nigeria.”

Armstrong-Ogbonna said investigations at the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and the Federal Ministry of Environment was conclusive that Integrated Oil and Gas Limited has no EIA report on the project.

According to her, the former Minister had since declared a “war” against her after getting officers at Area L Police Command in Lagos to arrest the spokesperson of the community, Chief Raymond Gold on February 22, 2016.

“As we speak, the Police at Area L are trying to get my details so that they can arrest me, they are asking Chief Raymond for my details. Why will they want to arrest me? I am a journalist, not a criminal,” she said.