By Uche Amunike
The group, All Workers Convergence, AWC, through her National Coordinator, Comrade Andrew Emelieze has made a call to Nigerians not to let the Federal government censor the media.
This call was made concerning the bill passed at the House of Representatives to amend the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Media Acts, which was sponsored by Olusegun Odebunmi, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values and which is already at the public hearing stage.
Emelieze condemned the efforts of the Buhari-led government of Nigeria to suppress genuine agitations and nationwide protests, describing the proposal amendments as a way to control and gag the Fourth Estate of the Realm.
He further stated that members of the AWC were on the same page with the media in condemning the Federal government’s ploy to silence and suppress the media.
He advised all media organizations to stand completely opposed to the proposed amendments.
His words: ‘We condemn attempts by the government to suppress genuine agitations and protest nationwide’.
‘We join forces with our media to condemn the attempt to monitor the media and we call on all media personnel to also mobilise massively for the forthcoming mother of all protest which shall help put an end to bad governance in Nigeria.’
‘We condemn also, the uncivilized way President Buhari and some desperate people have been threatening Nigerians with war sounds.’
‘As our government is planning to totally control the media, many more are wasting away, while daily killings are now the order in Nigeria, to the extent that it is now obvious to all that Buhari has taken Nigeria to the state of nature. Definitely, nobody feels secured any longer’.
‘Based on the unfortunate situation in our hands, we as a people have developed a culture of resistance against bad governance as seen in the avalanche of protest nationwide’.
‘We as a people have encouraged other citizens to get involved and secure our tomorrow through protest that will help terminate bad governance in Nigeria. We had earlier called for a national protest against insecurity and poverty in Nigeria.’
‘We urge all to consolidate on the different national protests and push further for more and more massive protest nationwide. We charged all great minds not to get tired of protesting as protest has shown to be a viable means to chasing away bad governance everywhere; our case in Nigeria will not be different.’
Recall that the Fourth Estate of the Realm had condemned the bill two weeks prior through the NUJ National President, Christopher Isiguzo who made it clear in an interview in Channels TV that any regulation that tends towards controlling the media by the Federal government will be resisted.
‘We are opposed to the planned amendment. We told the National Assembly that the matter was of contention in court and it would be sub-judice to discuss,’ Isiguzo said.
Many groups especially the media groups do not accept the Bill because from all indications, the controversial bill seeks to give more powers to the Minister of Information to have the conduct of Print Media houses and Media Practitioners under control.
Section 3(c) of the bill says: ‘with the approval of the minister in charge of information, establish and disseminate a National Press Code and standards to guide the conduct of print media, related media and media practitioners.
The minister will also approve penalties and fines against violation of the Press Code by print media houses and media practitioners, including revocation of license. The minister is to consider applications for the establishment, ownership and operation of print media and other related media houses.
The bill also proposes punitive measures for media outlets and journalists that act contrary to its provisions’.
Part of the bill for the States that media houses must be members of the Press Council, otherwise be liable to ‘conviction or to a fine of five million naira or a term of three years imprisonment or both and to an additional fine of twenty thousand naira for every day, the offence continues.’