Age falsification story: We were never arrested nor detained by CP Rivers State, says journalist

Mark Lenu, one of the journalists in the eye of the storm over a story published in a news blog, ThePortCityNews, on the alleged age falsification by the Rivers State Police Commissioner has refuted the news report by a newspaper that they were arrested and detained by the police.

In a statement he personally signed, Lenu stated emphatically that he and his colleague, Kenechi Okenyi were neither arrested nor detained by the police and that “it was just a polite invitation of which I told one of the policemen that I like their civil manner”. According to him, “After brief questions bothering on my name and profession in a friendly manner, I was taken by the police personnel to meet with the Commissioner of Police, CP Joseph Mukan who requested to to know the journalist that published the unverified age falsification story against him on ThePortCity News”.

“Okenyi pleaded with the CP to forgive him since 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”. He continued that the CP explained to them that “Those who issued him the passport made an error on his date of birth and he immediately went to the notary public to obtain an affidavit correcting the noticed error on his date of birth”.

According to him, the CP also pointed out that his records at the police Headquarters had always carried and still carrying his correct date of birth. “I pleaded for the CP’s fatherly forgiveness and suggested that we would do a rebuttal and at last the CP forgave us and asked us to go”.

When contacted by Nigeria Security Digest to confirm the authenticity of the rebuttal letter and whether he wrote it under duress, Mr Lenu confirmed that he indeed authored it and that he was pleasantly surprised at the civil and courteous manner with which they were treated by the CP, noting that if that was the standard of police engagement with the citizens, they will never have any image problem.

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

Denying the report, 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 the Punch 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”.

Nigeria Security Digest gathered that CP Mukan upon noticing the error in his date of birth promptly reported it to the issuing office and was told that he has to hold on until the passport expires before a fresh one with correct information will be issued him. He went to swear to an affidavit over the error as far back as 2018.

A senior police officer who didn’t want his name mentioned said he was sure that some people who wants the down fall of the CP might be behind the whole sordid turn of events while noting that error in the passport is not a strange occurrence that will elicit such hostile news report if there was no ulterior motive somewhere.


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