Journalists in Abia state thursday embarked on protest in their hundreds against the present suffocating atmosphere and intimidation of the media by government and its agencies.
They called on the Nigerian society to rise up and support the struggle for unfettered freedom of the press in the country.
The protest was carried out in response to a directive by the national secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) for a day of protest to be observed in all the states and FCT “to raise awareness and gain more support for the fight against incidents of impunity against the media”
Led by the chairman of Abia Council of NUJ, Mr. John Emejo, the protesting journalists marched around the precinct of the NUJ Press Centre carrying placards and chanting solidarity and freedom songs.
Some of the placards expressing their feelings read: ‘Victimisation of journalists is a crime against humanity; ‘Democracy can’t survive without the media; ‘Journalism is not a crime’; Enough is Enough’.
Addressing the journalists after the protest march, Emejor said it was unfortunate that journalists in Nigeria are now complaining of intimidation, harassment in a democratic era after emerging from the throes of military regime.
He reminded the present political actors that it would amount to hypocrisy for them to profess democracy and at the same time muzzle the media which is one of the major pillars on which democratic governance is rooted.
The Abia NUJ chairman also condemned the non-payment of salaries of journalists by media owners, noting that such things constitute great assaults on journalism profession.
In his remarks the General Manager of Modern Communications Limited (MCL), Mr. Chimdi Oluoha said that any leader who truly loves democracy should provide conducive atmosphere for the media to operate without any form of intimidation.
“It is important that we draw the attention of not only the government but every member of the society to ensure that journalists are protected,” he said.
The pioneer state chairman of Abia NUJ, Mr. Ogbonnaya Iheaka, who also delivered a speech, lamented that journalists in Nigeria are not accorded the desired respect and dignity, unlike what obtains in developed democracies where the profession is highly revered.