The President, Rights Monitoring Group (RMG), and a permamnent representative of the CCDI to the United Nations, Mr. Olufemi Aduwo, has urged the political class to stop the constant harrasments and intimidations of members of the fourth estate of the realm.
According to him, the media as society’s watchdog, is a profession that has paid its dues in nation building and continues to play the inevitable surveillance function so that the country for which generations of men and women have laboured to build would not go on its knees.
In a statement sent to THISDAY, Aduwo ssid instead of being positioned to enhance development and good governance, the profession is going through another round of repression in the hands of crude political leaders.
The statement read in parts: “There have been repeated reports of cases of abuse, harassment, assault, arrest and jailing of journalists in the different parts of the country. The ugly tide has risen to a level where concerned citizens must markedly intervene.
“The business of journalism, one must say now requires utmost caution. Journalists now have to be on guard, members of the pen profession have to put their houses in order on a daily basis as they do not know who is next to be picked up, locked up or even incarcerated by politicians who hate to see themselves in the mirror. I must in any case state that this present situation of the media in Nigeria is a breach of the laws upholding our constitutional democracy.
“Nigeria like every other nation of the world has laws regulating its affairs and these laws ought to be respected and complied with by agencies of government in carrying out their activities. Unfortunately, just like in banana republic, it appears that the Nigerian government has no regard for the rights of citizens as enshrined in the Constitution.”
In a quick reference to the arrest of Samuel Ogundipe, a Premium Times reporter, by the Police, Aduwo said, “The news of the arrest and account freezing of Mr. Samuel Ogundipe, is an appalling narrative in a democratic dispensation.
“Samuel Ogundipe in the exercise of his duty as a journalist reported news appertaining to the invasion of the National Assembly by the officers and men of the State Security Services and insisted on maintaining the confidentiality of his source in accordance with Article 4 of the Code of Ethics for Nigerian Journalists which is made pursuant to Section 9 of the Nigerian Press Council Act (CAP N128 LFN 2004). Having accused him of many unfounded allegations, the officers of the Nigerian police proceeded to arrest him.
“The usual trend, until recently, was to arrest a journalist and free him or her after few days of arrest then the arraignment of certain unlawful charges. The new turn of regular harassments as exampled by Samuel Ogundipe is unlawful, uncivilised and totally unacceptable. This is condemnable in the strongest of terms as an unreasonable and barbaric act on part of the Nigerian Police.”
Although already granted bail, the rights activist said trying to muzzle Ogundipe whose only offence was being a journalist is a drama taken too far. And the sadder part is the silence of persons who are supposed to rein in on these anomalies. It is now so precarious that we don’t know who will be picked next.
“The demolition of the Radio house (Fresh FM) of the renowned musician, Yinka Ayefele is another obvious attack on the media. The Oyo State Government had claimed that the building contravened sate laws, even if it did, due process was not followed. What could have been done was either to fine him or withdraw his License.
“The demolition of the building is an unfair act aimed at frustrating the media. The fact that the matter was already in court is enough to make the government apply breaks, respect the status quo and not to tamper with the building irrespective of whether there was a Court injunction or not. Yet the building was demolished in a manner that tells of the reign of anarchists.
“The discerning is very persuaded that the spate of attacks on the media is a politically calculated ploy to either manipulate, tilt or cow the Media in favour of the ruling class in the imminent 2019 elections. Other similar occurrences lend clear credence. The Channels TV was fined 5 million in the month of July 2018 for refusing to be the propaganda machine of the government against National Assembly.
“A host of other Media platforms are going through either suspension, fine or lock down in various forms”