Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has warned in strong terms that darkness awaits Nigeria if attacks on citadel of learning don't stop.
Atiku Abubakar

…Atiku accuses Buhari regime of stifling press freedom

…Obaseki tasks journalists on developmental journalism

…Sanwo-Olu promises to uphold press freedom

…NUJ seeks better enabling environment for journalists

By Innocent Anaba, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Gabriel Enogholase, Gabriel Ewepu

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, governors of Edo and Lagos states, Godwin Obaseki, and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, as well as Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, yesterday sought freedom of the press in the country.

The calls came on the occasion of celebration of this year’s World Press Freedom Day.

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar accused President Muhammadu Buhari’s government of clamping down on the media and intimidating citizens from expressing their thoughts freely.

Atiku made the allegation in a series of tweets on his Twitter handle, @atiku, in commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day.

While Governor  Godwin Obaseki of Edo State charged journalists to use the power of the pen to ensure peace, unity and development of the country amid various challenges facing the nation, his counterpart in Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, expressed the commitment of his administration not to do anything to abridge press freedom in the state.

Also, Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, commended the doggedness of journalists and stakeholders in the media profession, praying for a better enabling environment for journalists in the country.

ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, also urged the Federal Government to take action to improve poor record on media repression.

Atiku said:  “The celebration of World Press Freedom Day suggests a twin notion of an independent media and freedom of expression, which is enshrined as a fundamental human right.

“The ability of the media to report stories without fears of clampdown and intimidation and the ability of the people to freely express their thoughts responsibly has come under persistent haemorrhage by the current administration in Nigeria.

“When the voice of the people is repressed in a democracy, the natural tendency is a disconnect between the people and government. In such a situation, good governance is compromised, and the effects of bad governance begin to assume more significant manifestations.”

While congratulating the Nigerian press on the milestone it had attained over the years, especially in the enthronement of democracy in the country, Atiku urged the media to continue to be the pathfinder in the quest for a more prosperous and progressive nation.

Obaseki tasks journalists on peace, developmental journalism

Obaseki said journalists being the mirror of the society must discharge their duties diligently, upholding the ethics of the profession and providing only reliable, fact-based and accurate information to the public.

He said, “Amid the many challenges currently facing the country, it is pertinent that the media as the watchdog of the society and members of the exalted fourth estate of realm, in the best interest of all Nigerians, use the pen to unite the people, focusing on contents and reportage that fosters unity, peace and development.”

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He further tasked journalists on framing their reports to promote non-violent resolution of conflicts and other pressing societal issues, noting that such an approach to their duties will drive sustainable development.

Sanwo-Olu promises to uphold press freedom

Governor Sanwo-Olu in a statement by the Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, commended the role of the media in the development of the society as he promised to uphold press freedom.

.The press, he noted, “mirrors the society, exposes ills, and bridges the gap between the government and the people to create mutual understanding and cooperation.”

He urged all journalists to shun fake news and continue to observe the ethics of their trade.

NUJ seeks better enabling environment for journalists

Lagos NUJ council in a statement by Adeleye Ajayi, Chairman and Tunde Olalere, Secretary, commended the doggedness of journalists and stakeholders in the media profession, adding “Unfortunately, the journey towards the attainment of a viable free press in Nigeria appears to be endless, as journalists suffered series of attacks that had sent some to their early graves.

“Over the past 15 years, more than 1,200 journalists have been killed globally for reporting the news and bringing information to the public. We say ‘NO’ to maltreatment, and unlawful detention of journalists, who have dedicated their lives to the pen profession.

“Government is expected to promote press freedom as enshrined in Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution. We recall the arrests of Agba Jalingo, Omoyele Sowore and Jones Abiri.

As we mark World Press Freedom Day, we must equally remember  journalists that had lost their lives in the pursuit of stories

“Government should secure justice for families of journalists murdered for doing their works. Dear colleagues, we urge you all to be steadfast in discharging your constitutional duties as members of the fourth estate of the realm.

“We equally urge media owners and practitioners to find lasting solutions to issue of unpaid salaries of journalists, running into months and years. This is unprofessional, and has to be nipped in the bud forthwith. It is also time the National Assembly moves to ensure that journalists’ retirement age is reviewed upward to 65 years in line with that of teachers.

“Special tribute  also goes to people helping journalists to uncover the biggest stories of injustice, corruption, abuse of power, rights violations and societal rot. We must also work closely to eradicate fake news and sanction the perpetrators who are at the verge of damaging the integrity of the media.”

Actionaid charges FG to tackle media repression

ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, also urged the Federal Government to take action to improve poor record on media repression.

Country Director, AAN, Ene Obi, said in Nigeria, there had been a consistent and dangerous attempt by both state and non-state actors to gag the media.

She said: “The freedom of the press is one of the essential cornerstones of a democratic society. But, in Nigeria, there has been a consistent and dangerous attempt by both state and non-state actors to breach not only local and international statutes guaranteeing the essential freedom of expression but to expurgate and censure the media and journalists while doing their legitimate duties.

“At its last Universal Periodic Review, UPR, in 2018, the Nigerian Government made a commitment to protect and promote freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and to create a safe and favorable environment for human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society.

“Unfortunately, these commitments have not translated into action by government as many cases of impunity against the media and journalists have led to the poor rating the country has received.

“Action Aid Nigeria, therefore, calls on the government and other stakeholders in Nigeria to use the opportunity of the World Press Freedom Day to take action to improve on the country’s appalling record of repression of the media and journalists.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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