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Age Falsification: We were not Forced to Retract Allegations against Rivers CP–Journalists

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*Says they were never arrested by Police

*Allegations based on false premise

Godsgift Onyedinefu

Mark Lenu, a journalist and publisher of TheNewsEye blog has dismissed reports claiming that he and his colleague were arrested and detained by the Rivers State Police Command for publishing a story alleging that the commissioner of police in the state falsified his age as false.

The Editor, ThePortCityNews, Mr. Kenechi Okenyi, had published a report alleging that the Commissioner of Police, CP Joseph Mukan, is using a false age citing that the age in his international passport is inconsistent with other documents. 

A Newspaper on Tuesday, 17 November 2020, also carried a report on the alleged age falsification story claiming that the journalists were arrested and detained on the orders of the Police Commissioner.

However, Lenu in a statement clarified that he and Okenyi were only politely invited by the police on November 13. He said that on genuine explanation from the Rivers State Police Commissioner, there were able to see that they erred in their previous report and subsequently apologized. 

According to him, the explanation by the CP exposed the fact that the report was unverified and not balanced which has made the story to constitute a gross ethical misconduct on the part of the author and was highly libelous in nature, hence the retraction without coercion. 

Lenu added that the CP subsequently explained to them that those who issued him his international passport made an error on his date of birth and he immediately went to notary public to obtain an affidavit correcting the noticed error on his date of birth. 

“The CP also pointed out that his records at the Police Headquarters had always carried and still carrying his correct date of birth. 
“I also pleaded for the CP’s fatherly forgiveness and suggested a rebuttal and at last the CP forgave and asked us to go. 

“We got back to Old GRA, Police Station and decided to refute the story and finally left there around 8pm same Friday. 

“We were neither arrested nor detained by the police. It was just a polite invitation of which I told one of the policemen that I like their civil manner, ” Lenu stated.

Meanwhile, the Spokesman of Rivers State Police Command, Nnamdi Omoni, in a press statement later on Tuesday also expressed shock at the “damning report credited to a Newspaper where it was reported that Rivers Police arrested and detained a Journalist over a report on Commissioner of Police”.

According to him, “On 13/11/2020 the duo of Mark Lenu and Kenechi Okenyi, Port Harcourt based online Journalists were invited by the Commissioner of Police over an unverified report credited to Kelechi Okenyi of PortCityNews.

“At the behest of the Commissioner of Police, both of them were in the CP’s Office and after they were presented with relevant facts contrary to what he (Kenechi Okenyi) had published, they became sober and immediately pleaded for forgiveness and further suggested to stand down the story with a rebuttal to that effect, following which the CP in his fatherly disposition, cautioned and allowed them to go the same day, unconditionally.

It is pertinent to state that Kenechi Okenyi whose act amounted to libel was never detained nor harassed in any manner whatsoever”, the statement read.

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