World Para-Powerlifting Championship: How Queen Uboh-Idris Blacklisted Nigeria Journalists From Covering Opening Ceremony In Abuja

World Para-Powerlifting Championship: How Queen Uboh-Idris Blacklisted Nigeria Journalists From Covering Opening Ceremony In Abuja

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By Amaechi Agbo

Nigeria journalists, particularly Abuja-based sports reporters, we Tuesday taken aback after they discovered that they were not invited to cover the opening ceremony of the Para Powerlifting World Cup Championship holding in Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of power, can report.

Some journalists who went to the venue of the ceremony at International Conference Centre, ICC, Area 10, Garki Abuja, were shocked after they were denied entrance by stern looking and overzealous security agents at the entrance. After subjecting the journalist to barrage of questions which included to produce either their invitation or accreditation cards to which the journalists did not have, they were asked to leave the premises.

But on continued demand that they have the right to cover the event since it was a national and world sport, one of the suit-wearing security personnel referred them to another official who was not different.

The journalists who were four in number including correspondent were told by the second personnel that the media were not invited.

“With all due respect, we do not need invitation to cover this event and there was nowhere we were asked to come for accreditation and we failed to do so. It is therefore our responsibility to cover this event and tell Nigerians and the global community what is happening here,” one of the journalists told him.

Realising that he had a case in hand, the man told them to give him time to speak to the person in charge of media.

Our correspondent who waited for over an hour along with his colleagues, at this point, left the venue for another assignment.

Our finding later on showed that after so much haggling, the journalists were allowed to enter but discovered that there was neither media accreditation nor invitation sent to any journalist.

We Did Not Interview With The PPFN President

The journalists after covering the event told that they did not interview the president of the Para-Powerlifting Federation of Nigeria, Queen Uboh-Idris.

A reporter from one of the mainstream media in the country told our correspondent that the whole situation is a sham and described the action of the PPFN President as unwarranted and unpatriotic.

“The whole thing is just a mess. You cannot imagine a world championship holding here in Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of power and the media are not invited. In the first place, there should have been a world press conference to herald this auspicious and unique event.

“What transpired at the ICC on Tuesday was just uncalled for. The journalists were treated like nobody. The attitude of the PPFN President is unwarranted and unpatriotic.

“This is a world event and not her pet project for crying out loud. You can see billboard everywhere in the city yet, the media were shut out at the opening ceremony.

“The security agents there made things much more difficult for us but we refused to give in to their actions. However the good news is that we covered the event but we did not interview the PPFN president. We interviewed the athletes as well as other dignitaries including the First Lady, Aisha Buhari,” he said.

Another reporter from a private TV station in Abuja said “Things are not done this way. Granted that there are crises in the Para-Powerlifting Federation of Nigeria, PPFN with the President and some of her board members, that was not enough to side-line the media in the opening ceremony of a world championship.

“Normally in an event of this magnitude, the first person you will interview is the PPFN President but going by her attitude, we did not talk to her. We hope things get better in the federation as we prepare for Olympics in Japan few months from now,” he said.

When contacted on phone by 11:54am on Wednesday, a female voice who told our correspondent that her name was Ruth, a cousin to the PPFN President, Queen Uboh-Idris, promised to give the phone to her for us to speak with her.

However, subsequent calls made to the same phone line were unanswered.

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