By Henry Uche, Lagos
Senior Advocate of Nigeria Mr Femi Falana has charged media professionals not to be daunted in the course of discharging their constitutional responsibilities, saying no amount of intimation should discourage the media from reporting the truth at all times.
Mr Falana made this charge in Lagos at the launch of a report entitled “Something To Hide? Media Freedom Under Siege in Nigeria”, published by Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP).
He condemned the recent sanction meted on Channels TV by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), saying that it did not follow due process.
‘Media freedom in Nigeria was hardily fought for decades ago; we have a history, so the media must not be daunted, no matter the level of intimidation. As for the N5 million sanction against Channels TV, if Channels has paid it, it should be refunded pronto and NBC should apologise to them and Nigerians at large for violating our collective rights. Besides, the NBC code allegedly amended in 2020 is illegal for obvious reasons, and should be squashed,’ Mr Falana said.
He called out the APC led federal administration’s response to criticisms, protests and other forms of public expression, noting that any administration which has outlived its usefulness should take a bow and let competent hands manage the economy.
‘A call for impeachment is not a treasonable felony. It’s a common move the citizens make for a change of administration through the instrumentality of National Assembly when things are falling apart as it’s today in Nigeria,’ Mr Falana maintained.
He called on SERAP and other civil society organisations to be resolute in the course of pursuing accountability, transparency, justice and good governance.
A presidential spokesman in the Goodlluck Jonathan administration, Dr Reuben Abati, speaking at the event, urged the media to be thorough, assertive and independent.
Abati called on the APC administration not to operate like a secret organisation, saying that hiding information or gaging the media is against the fundamental freedom of expression.
‘This government must not operate like a secret organisation and must not decide what the people should hear or not hear regarding their actions and inactions. Undeniably, the people have the right to know how the government is being run, editors to be discreet while taking decisions in the newsroom, they must know that one man’s decision is not good for all,’ he said.
According to the president of the Nigerian Union Of Journalists (NUJ) Chris Isiguzo, ‘the federal government has something to hide following their repression on the media, but we must not give up. We must continue to fight for the freedom of the media at all times.’