NPAN and NGE fault attempt to stifle press freedom as new attacks – Articles – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News
The Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Union of Nigerian Journalists (NUJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI) have highlighted the need for industry-wide engagement in establishing a structure for regulating the practice of journalism in the country.
In a statement issued after a recent meeting in Abuja, media professionals insisted that press freedom is vital for the maintenance of democracy.
The statement was signed by NPAN Chairman Malam Kabir Yusuf; President of NGE, Mustapha Isah; NUJ President Chris Isiguzo; IPI President Mojeed Musikilu and International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) Executive Director Dayo Aiyetan.
The professionals said their stance was necessitated by the renewed vigor of the National Assembly to reintroduce bills that could stifle media practice.
They noted that the media would not allow covert or overt attempts to muzzle and criminalize the practice of journalism in Nigeria – whether through the odious Social Media Bill or the Code of Practice of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
They said principles of good journalism practice such as truth, accuracy, balance, independence and protection of journalists should be upheld.
According to the statement, “We agreed that there is a need for self-regulation based on the code of ethics, in addition to the need for further review of the existing code.
“Stakeholders insist on the primacy of media freedom and jealously guard it, and are not unaware of the responsibilities that come with these freedoms.”
The groups, which recommended a six-week deadline for the review and launch of said media regulatory structure, agreed that building the capacity of media professionals should be a priority.
“Therefore, the training and retraining of all segments of the media, especially editors, journalists and the bureaucracy of the various media associations and unions – NPAN, NGE, NUJ and IPI should be a focus. It is about improving professionalism, institutional memory and sustainability,” they noted.
They further instructed the media to have an internal framework as well, either at the level of individual organizations or collectively.
In conclusion, they advised governments to refrain from interfering in the editorial independence of public media institutions.
MEANWHILE, those in the profession have expressed concern over new attacks on journalists, calling them an attack on press freedom. In fact, they described journalists as an endangered species, who are often spied on, harassed, tortured, intimidated, physically attacked and victimized.
The International Press Center (IPC) Journalists Safety Alert Office observed that between January and July 2022, more than 40 cases of dangerous and life-threatening incidents involving journalists and other media workers were recorded.
On May 24, 2022, a vehicle carrying members of the Osun State Council Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) was attacked by suspected political thugs, while covering the Governor’s campaign of the State, Gboyega Oyetola in Gbogan, Council of Aiyedade of the State.
On the same day, in Benin, in Edo State, three journalists – Deborah Coker of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Sunny Inarumen of African Independent Television (AIT) and Osamuyi Ogbomo (Independent Television) – were arrested while covering a factional primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Other attacks include the harassment of Oyo State correspondent of The Nation newspaper, Yinka Adeniran, on May 25, 2022. He was allegedly attacked and beaten by police officers during the PDP governor’s primary at Lekan Sports Complex Salami, Adamasingba, Ibadan.
A few days later, precisely on May 31, 2022, police allegedly shot the Osun State correspondent of the same newspaper, Toba Adedeji, during a protest in Osogbo, Osun State.
Likewise, on Saturday, June 18, 2022, Omoniyi Jeremiah, a campus journalist, who was deployed by the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) to cover the Ekiti Governor’s poll was arrested and taken away. by the Department of State Services (DSS) during the poll, for allegedly recording a video of a fight involving party agents at a polling station in Irepodun/Ifelodun council.
On Sunday, June 19, 2022, in Lagos, Lagos Island thugs attacked the media crew covering the office of the Governor of Lagos State leaving no less than two journalists seriously injured, others injured .
The journalists involved, Adeola Ogunrinde and Omatseye Atsenuwa of Smooth FM were seriously injured, while Adedoja Salam of TVC was left in shock.
On June 27, 2022, Mr. Haruna Mohammed, the publisher of online newspaper WikkiTimes and one of the journalists, Mr. Idris Kamal were reportedly harassed and assaulted by security agencies in Bauchi State.
The two journalists’ ordeal began when they honored an invitation from the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) following a petition from Mr. Yakubu Shehu Abdullahi, a member of the House of Representatives representing the federal constituency of Bauchi, regarding a Wikki Times report. of May 18, 2022, on the sudden death of the President of the APC in the Council of Bauchi.
The journalists arrived at the station around 10 a.m. on Monday but after giving a statement they were reportedly locked in a cell and physically assaulted.
Despite the presence of their lawyer at the police station, they were only released about ten hours later and ordered to appear on Tuesday June 28, 2022, for a new interrogation.
The two journalists again reported to SCIID Bauchi as instructed, but were quickly rushed to a Bauchi Magistrate’s Court, where they were charged with criminal conspiracy, defamation and cyberstalking.
The court decided that they should be kept in detention until Wednesday, June 29, 2022.
In his reaction, the Executive Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, said that journalists should not continue to be treated as endangered species in the country, saying that under all circumstances, news agencies security should always strive to respect the rule of law in handling complaints or petitions against journalists and other media professionals, as they should normally do for any citizen.
He insisted that such attacks represent a return to the era of media repression in the country, adding that such a development poses a serious danger to press freedom and freedom of expression.
For him, it is also necessary to remind all security agencies that the role of the media during electoral processes and elections is recognized by the constitution and the electoral law and that any aggression against media professionals means that the laws of the country are undermined.
Referring specifically to the attack on the media team bus on Lagos Island, he observed that the worst could have happened to the journalists and instructed both the police and the state government to Lagos to bring the perpetrators to justice to deter those who may be planning similar attacks in the countdown to the 2023 elections.
In a similar vein, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) Programs Director Ayodele Longe said the reported attack is condemnable in all its ramifications as it was unprovoked.
He said that although police and security agencies were present, there were no reports that they were trying to protect journalists or prevent them from being harmed. Unfortunately, he noted that it is the tendency that law enforcement and security agents, when they are not the ones attacking journalists, turn a blind eye when journalists are attacked.
For them, he said there was only one man whose life mattered, that of Asiwaju Tinubu. He said that they in fact have a binding duty to protect every citizen, just like journalists who are in the line of duty, enlightening the people about what is happening in the country.
For him, while there is a need for relevant agencies to investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice, he suggested the need to be trained in their duty to protect Nigerians from all walks of life. He said “they shouldn’t stand aside while innocent citizens are being attacked.”
Arogundade added that political parties and the government must put in place mechanisms to protect journalists during campaigns and elections. He noted that parties should be reminded that the Nigerian Media Code on Election Coverage obliges them to grant access to journalists interested in covering their activities, including the primaries, while taking steps to protect them. aggrieved party members or political thugs.
He further suggested that there is an urgent need for the heads of security agencies to enlighten their managers on how to give respect to journalists covering events of public interest and refrain from attacking them.