Comrade Michael Ikeogwu, with mic, addressing the protesting journalists in Asaba on Thursday. Photo: Patrick Ochei.
The Delta state Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has denounced the resort to impunity by the Federal Government against journalists in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the Council, Comrade Michael Ikeogwu handed down the condemnation during a peaceful procession of the Council in Asaba on Thursday, 30/8/2018 to protest the high handedness of the Federal Government to journalists and insensitivity to their constitutional roles.
Urging the Buhari-led administration to stop impunity against journalists in the country, Comrade Ikeogwu said that media practitioners cannot continue to be intimidated, molested and detained while performing their constitutional duties.
He also called on security agencies and other members of the society who indulge in maltreating and harassing journalists to desist forthwith or have the Union to contend with.
The journalists representing different media houses filed out in their numbers to protest against the incessant harassment of journalists in line with the national executive council’s directive aimed at calling attention to the plight of journalists in the country who have become objects of attacks, harassment and ill-treatment by the Federal Government and its agencies. .
During the protest which took off from the State Ministry of Information’s secretariat on Summit Road, a former Chairman Emeritus of the Delta State Council of NUJ, Comrade Osita Biose was also hand and duly addressed members of the Union some of who were carrying various inscriptions on their placards.
Biose who maintained that journalists must be respected in view of their constitutional responsibility of disseminating information and setting agenda for society, called on government at all levels to protect these rights of journalists and not gag the press.
He affirmed that no matter the provocation, no authority or highly placed individual has a right to arrest, detain or violently attack a journalist without first exploring the options of mediation, dialogue or redress through the court.
Comrade Biose, however, advised journalists to equally carry themselves with respect and dignity, and perform their duties with utmost diligence, adding that the politicians who sometimes use them to achieve their selfish interests didn’t attend better schools than them.
Also in his submission, the Vice Chairman of the State Council, Comrade Patrick Ochei averred that the Nigerian constitution guarantees the freedom of the press, and as such, the government must seek to protect the practitioners from harm’s way.
For Comrade Ochei, some of the agencies of government have become instruments of oppression against media practitioners. He gave instances with the arrest and detention of a colleague in Delta, Prince Daniel Ekiugbo by the DSS for several months; as well as the detention of the Bayelsa based journalist, Jones Abiri for two years at the DSS custody, maintaining that another horrific case at hand was the demolition of the Fresh FM station at Ibadan in Oyo State.
Moreover, while the Secretary of the Council, Comrade Churchill Oyowe believes that from the body language of the government and its agencies, the freedom of the press is just a lip service assurance, the Chairperson of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, Comrade Patricia Gbemudu said that enough is enough of the injustices meted out to journalists who are, indeed, members of the fourth estate of the realm.
They both demanded that the President Buhari-led government of the day should not take Nigerians back to the draconian days, but should respect and synergize with journalists in the interest of progress and development of the nation.
It was a worthwhile venture as members of the noble profession had a field day, expressing their grievances and calling on the public to join forces with the NUJ to fight the injustices against journalists.
As journalists in Delta protested, the same simultaneously went on nationwide, a bid to collectively press home the demands against impunity on journalists.