World Press Freedom Day: Editors Task Incoming Govt On Journalists’ Safety
The Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE has urged the incoming government to initiate and sustain policies and programmes to promote freedom of expression, media freedom, and the safety of journalists.
The call was made in a statement signed by the Guild President, President Mustapha Isah, and the General Secretary, Dr. Iyobosa Uwugiaren to mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day.
The Guild noted that there were conscious efforts in the past few years by some members of the National Assembly – working in collaboration with officials of the executive arm of government, to criminalise journalism practice in Nigeria.
In the statement, the umbrella body of all the editors in Nigeria also promised to engage the incoming government over the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, Act, and the Broadcast Code of Conduct – with the aim to amend and reform them to conform to the global best practices.
NGE said that pluralistic mass media predicated on freedom of expression, freedom of information, and free press is fundamental to any effective and functional democracy all over the world, stating that Nigeria can’t be an exception.
“We share the popular notion that freedom of the media is indispensable for the protection of all other human rights. Instances abound where inhuman treatment, torture, corruption, misuse of power, impunity, and nepotism were exposed because of the reports by the media. Informing members of the public is often the first and essential step to begin remedying human rights violations and holding governments to account.
‘’Disturbing signs of repression, violations of media freedom, and several cautious attempts to criminalise journalism practice, have been observed in the past few years in our country. There have been different forms of control, censorship, and pressure over the content of mass media in Nigeria, especially the broadcast stations, which have hindered their independence and pluralism.
‘’Cases of journalists who are deprived of their inalienable rights due to their work continue to occur over and over again.
Cases of harassment, intimidation, violence – and even murder – have been documented in the past eight years – by both local and international pro-media rights groups’’, the NGE stated.
The NGE said it is nevertheless, not unaware of the media’s shortcomings, saying the professional body will continue to provide useful advice on the improvement of the journalism profession.
The body advised members of the public to make use of the recently inaugurated nine-member board of the National Media Complaints Commission, NMCC, otherwise known as the National Ombudsman, to report cases of media misconduct.
“The inauguration of NMCC is a major step by the media industry to strengthen public confidence in the media through the prompt resolution of issues bordering on ethical breaches in media content.”
“The process is being driven by the Nigeria Press Organisation, NPO, comprising the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria, NPAN, the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON, and the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, GOCOP, along with other strategic media players and the civil society, in particular the MacArthur Foundation,” the editors added.