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Dogara Laments Buhari Govt’s Hostility To Media Freedom

-Journalists Must Expose Enemies Of Open Society



Muslim-Muslim Doagara

Speaker Yakubu Dogara has lamented the hostility of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to the media even as he on Saturday paid tribute to Nigerian journalists who died in active service, as well as those who have survived brutal forms of censorship.

He has nevertheless charged journalists to ensure that they do not relent in using their constitutionally provided powers to reveal enemies of open society who disguise themselves as democrats and try to use coersion to make the citizens docile and obedient.

He said these in his remarks at the opening ceremony of a conference organised by Premium Times Centre For Investigative Journalism and European Union’s Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme to mark the 2019 World Press Freedom Day in Abuja. 

Speaking on the theme, “Press Freedom in Nigeria – Rule of Law, Media and Violent Extremism,” he stated,

“Press Freedom, which is the focus of this celebration, is very fundamental to the sustenance of the principles of the Rule of Law, Open Government, Democracy, societal peace and order, as well as the delivery of good governance.” 

Elucidating on the theme of this year’s celebration, he said it was very appropriate as Nigeria now faces one of her worst periods of insecurity manifesting in violent extremism, rampant cases of kidnapping, cattle rustling, herder/ farmers violent conflicts and murderous campaign of bandits across Nigeria.

This, he continued, is a major challenge to media practitioners as the media must constantly balance the need to inform the citizens with their equally weighty responsibility to ensure that their reports do not contribute to exercabating an already dangerously tense  and fragile situation.

Assessing the state of government/ Press relations in Nigeria under the present dispensation, the Speaker said, “it is fair to say that it is anything but banal.  

“We are all witnesses to recurring examples of coercion, threats, brutality, arrests, incarceration and media shut down perpetrated by the state against journalists and their establishments. Instances of these draconian measures adopted by State actors abound during the recent elections held in parts of the country and the General Elections. 

“These attacks on the independence of the Press greatly inhibit effective media practice and does not augur well for good governance and democracy. Governments efforts must never be to make our citizens docile and obedient, that’s what repressive regimes do best, but our goal must be to keep our citizens active and informed with the skills to questions the questions and question the answers if they so wish. This is how democracies all over the world are built by refusing to censor the free press and by escalating positive conflicts. Ours cannot be different.

“Permit me to say that that press freedom is not negotiable and direct violence to journalists is not the only threat. Those who attack the media as “fake news” or “enemy of the people” in order to erode the credibility of the press are as dangerous as those perpetrating violence against journalists.  As legislators, we will always stand up and speak out  for Pressmen and media outfits that uphold the ethics of fairness, objectivity, truthfulness and patriotism  in their practice. 

“It is hoped that the 9th Assembly will dedicate itself to enacting enabling laws that will prioritise the protection and welfare of journalists to enable them do the work of democracy.

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