From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED), has carpeted the Federal Government over the invitation of two Channels TV presenters by the Department of State Services (DSS) over an interview they had with a retired Naval Officer, Kunle Olawunmi.
CHRICED’s Executive Director, Dr. Zikirullahi Ibrahim, in a statement, yesterday, cautioned the government against intimidating media houses
when it should channel its strength in addressing the issues of insecurity and poverty unsettling citizens.
Zikirullahi specifically stated that the recent “audacious terrorist attack, which targeted the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) is the type of extant national security threat the DSS should be busy working to neutralize.”
The statement reads: “The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) has observed with trepidation yesterday’s invitation of two Channels TV presenters, Chamberlain Usoh and Kayode Okikiolu, by the Department of State Services (DSS) over an interview given by a retired Naval Officer, Kunle Olawunmi.
“Although the Secret Service later issued a statement to the effect that the broadcasters were not arrested, but were only invited, the point to stress is that the act of summoning the two gentlemen for carrying out their professional duties, amounts to intimidation, and an attempt to muzzle the Free Press.
“For a government, which already parades a record of disdain for freedom of the Press, the act of coercing members of the fourth estate of the realm doing their job, is ill-advised, just as it fails to address the chronic insecurity in the land, which is the crux of the matter.
“Security of lives and property across the country, is fast deteriorating and the Federal Government cannot continue to shy away from its primary obligation.
“CHRICED strongly believes that instead of dissipating energy, time and national resources on summoning, interrogating and intimidating journalists, the DSS should make better use of its enormous powers to track and neutralize the criminals who have turned Nigeria into a killing field and an insecure country.
“It is apparent that the enemies of the State are not the journalists or citizens who give critical commentary on the chronic state of insecurity across the land.
“The real enemies of the Nigerian State are the terrorists, killer herdsmen, kidnappers and the abductors of school children, who have now combined to make Nigeria an ungovernable space.
“The earlier the security agencies goes after these elements making life miserable for citizens, the better for the stability of the country.
“It is also pertinent to make the point that the insecurity across the country, directly affects the lives and livelihoods of millions of Nigerians.
“As such, citizens, opinion leaders, and their organizations have a fundamental and constitutional right to freely express themselves by speaking up about the situation of insecurity in the country.
“Section 39(1) of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution as amended, makes it clear that: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.’
“If it is the case that the government is concerned about the bad publicity, which comes from discussions on the subject of insecurity, it should tackle the problem of chronic insecurity, instead of harassing journalists and citizens over their discussions on the subject.”