By Sola Ogundipe, Lusaka, Zambia
The President of Nigerian Guild of Editors Mr. Gbenga Adefaye has said the Nigerian Press is too sophisticated to be intimidated.
Speaking at the finals of the 2012 CNN Multichoice African Journalist Awards ceremony, held at Lusaka, Zambia, where Nigeria won the Free Press Africa Award category, Adefaye decried the current assault on free press in the country but assured that the special recognition would serve as encouragement for the media to do even more.
In his speech entitled “No Terror can Subsume Our Press,” Adefaye described as a mistake efforts made by insurgents in the country to determine the content of the media through threats, affirming that the Nigerian Press is too sophisticated to be so intimidated.
Two Nigerian journalist who were specially recognised are; Zakariyu Isa, a cameraman with the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, Maiduguri, shot dead in front of his home in Maiduguri in October 2011, and Eneche Akogwu, a news reporter at Channels Television, Lagos , also shot dead while covering the Kano bomb blast in January 2012.
The Free Press Africa Award was introduced in 1999 to recognise journalistic courage and integrity in enhancing the cause of media freedom.
Below is the text of NGE President’s speech
NO TERROR CAN SUBSUME OUR PRESS
Nine months ago, insurgents struck with terror at journalism practice in my country- Nigeria. Zakariya Isa, a journalist with the government owned Nigerian Television Authority was shot dead in front of his home in Maiduguri. Zakariya left widows, children and other dependants.
Three months later, Eneche Akogwu, the 31 year old, set-to- wed vibrant reporter with a private television station, CHANNELSTV, Lagos was also shot dead while covering the activities of the insurgents in another city – Kano. Eneche left aged parents and a distraught fiancée. I doubt if those gentlemen had life insurance cover.
It is a running story: in April, three newspapers, Thisday, SUN and The Moment were bombed simultaneously in Abuja and Kaduna. Boko Haram have claimed responsibility for the killings and the bombings. They have threatened more assault on free press and free speech.
The insurgents want to determine the content of our media. They threatened : you either report our activities wholesale or you do no report on us at all. And if you must keep our stories out of your press, then you are barred from reporting security and government activities concerning us. Otherwise, you are also an enemy.
The insurgents do not discriminate in their attacks on the press. Practically, everyone who does not perform to their description of what is accurate news report is in danger. Periodically, threats are issued via the Internet against the press.
But I tell you, that is a mistake.
The Nigerian Press is too sophisticated to be so intimidated. Our story has always been that when the press is threatened, it comes out stronger. Our press which survived the most brutal of military dictatorships and wears the battle scar as a badge of Honour, now complemented by a fast growing social media will surely survive this current assault on free press and write the story thereafter.
I want to thank CNN and Multichoice sharing of our pains. Thank you for the empathy. Thank you particularly for the symbolic support for those left behind by Eneche and Zakariya
This solidarity can only push our press to be more courageous, daring and professional. On behalf of everyone, I want to make you a promise: the Nigerian press will continue to report the truth and speak truth to power. It is the minimum that we can do to the memory of the
courageous two who have fallen, in active service.
Thank you for the recognition.
President, Nigerian Guild of Editors