Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has strongly condemned a bill before the Senate seeking to empower the Nigerian Press Council to decide which training institutions and professional qualifications attained there from should be acceptable for journalism practice in Nigeria.
In a communiqué issued at the end of its standing committee meeting held, Friday, at Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, the NGE said it condemned the bill in “its entirety and will never nominate any of its members to serve in a council that seeks to cage the media, destroy the profession and criminalise journalists.”
The Guild also berated the Senate for passing the bill for second reading in spite of the subsisting court case, and therefore, condemned the promoters, saying it “bears the semblance of the obnoxious Decree 4 of 1984 and Decree 43 of 1988.” The statement read: “The Nigerian Guild of Editors vehemently condemns the bill which seeks to criminalise journalists and journalism practice, takes away the power of the law courts and usurps the constitutional duties of academic institutions and regulatory agencies such as the National Universities Commission (NUC). The Guild observes that those behind this bill have been unrelenting in their quest to cage the media under different guises, as the bill has come up under different administrations since 1961. This bill bears the semblance of the obnoxious Decree 4 of 1984 and Decree 43 of 1988.”
According to NGE, “there is nothing in the bill that shows how the council intends to create an enabling environment for the media to thrive as it is
the case in other sectors of the economy. Consequently, the Guild dismissed the bill as provocative, primitive, anti-people and anti-press freedom. The sponsors of this bill are clearly undemocratic and appear to suffer illusion of grandeur. They seemed to be totally oblivious of the fact that the media houses are businesses set up with investments apart from being the fourth estate of the realm. Indeed, it is the opinion of the Guild that this bill should be consigned to the dustbin where it rightly belongs.”