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Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State on Tuesday pleaded with journalists to put behind them a dispute with him last week over which he banned two reporters “for life” from working in the state.

Mr Umahi pronounced the sanction against the correspondents of Vanguard, Peter Okutu, and The Sun, Chijioke Agwu.

They were arrested for two separate stories they wrote which the governor said were false and targeted at tarnishing the image of the state.

While Mr Agwu’s report was on the Lassa fever outbreak in the state, Mr Okutu’s report focused on the recent invasion of a community in Umuogodoakpu, Mgbo in Ohaukwu local government area.

The governor equally banned them for life from entering the Ebonyi State Government House and other government facilities in the state.

He issued the ban on live television on the state broadcast stations on Wednesday.

The governor’s action attracted widespread condemnations from various groups within and outside the state.

But in a similar live broadcast on Tuesday at the New Government House, Abakaliki, Mr Umahi expressed regret over the development.

“I have directed that the unfortunate incident with the press was not intentional but am asking everybody to disregard what has happened because we are all partners in progress and let us work together. But I will advise that you please crosscheck information,” he said.

“There are certain write-ups that people are not happy about and that is why I said please let everybody down tools in love and work together. I specifically asked that The Sun and Vanguard reporters be invited. As a father, when you beat a child with one hand, you bring the child back with another hand.

“I believe strongly that if anybody wants to intentionally bring you down he can’ t pull you down standing, he will certainly go down with you. And you may even rise above him. But the single way to be happy in life is to be happy with success.”

He called for a partnership with the media geared towards the development of the state.

“I want to invite the press for partnership and also ask them to also please help build the state. Nobody said you should do preferential reporting, nobody said you should not report the truth because our state is peculiar. Everybody has forgotten what happened, let’s work together.”

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