December 9, 2023

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi has allegedly threatened to murder a reporter of Peoples Gazette, an online newspaper, for reportedly exposing his shady business practices. Recall that the newspaper had on Friday accused Umahi of transferring billions to his private firm from Ebonyi treasury, in disregard for extant code of conduct regulations precluding senior public officials from conducting private businesses, except subsistence agriculture, while in office. Citing recently obtained financial records of Ebonyi State, The PeoplesGazette accused Umahi of engaging in illicit financial flows from the state’s purse to Brass Engineering & Construction Nig. Ltd., a company founded and chaired by himself since 1993. Brass Engineering, documents showed, had received more than N3.6 billion from Ebonyi coffers between 2011 and 2019. Umahi, who started transferring state funds into Brass Engineering shortly after becoming deputy governor to Martin Elechi in 2011, continued the suspicious transaction with his firm when he assumed governor himself in 2015. Following the exposure, the Ebonyi governor’s aide stated placing pressure on the online newspaper to retract or delete the story entirely from the website and servers. Umahi’s aide also threatened to eliminate the Gazette’s reporters, should the newspaper persevere with its refusal to take down the story.

“You’ve just done harm to the image of Ebonyi State, and I can assure you that if you don’t retract it, we might fall out with you,” an aide to Governor Umahi, who called in to express displeasure about the report said Saturday afternoon. “It’s not in terms of going to sue you, we know how to do it,” he threatened. He added: “This thing can cause people’s lives, this particular thing you did can cause people’s lives, and I know what I’m saying. I’m close to you. I can see you. Quote me anywhere. “You just have to retract it because this is a serious image laundering you have done to Ebonyi State and you cannot just go like that. You just have to retract that information you published about the governor before things go bad.”

Despite indicating no interest to contest the newspaper findings, Umahi’s aide boasted that his boss had made money before embarking into politics, hence had no reason to loot public resources. “He (Umahi) has been in money before he became the governor. I’m not talking as though or because I’m an appointee, but if you come to Ebonyi State and see the unprecedented development going on in the state, you won’t be able to publish that,” he asserted.

When reached for comments prior to Gazette’s publication of his suspicious use of state funds on Friday, Umahi had initially declined to challenge the accuracy of the findings. Instead, he threatened legal consequences in messages to the online newspaper. “What is ur f**kin business about who transacts govt business?” the governor said in a message to The PeoplesGazette. “Go to hell and die.”

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