The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has urged Nigerians to rally together and prevent the “draconian amendments” to the Press Council, saying they would be worse for it if the media is harassed and assaulted by the present administration.
Executive Director, CHRICED, Dr Ibrahim Zikirullahi, at media conference in Abuja, said whenever the press comes under state-sponsored attacks, masquerading as regulation, it is the collective responsibility of all well-meaning citizens and groups to expose and denounce such a sinister agenda.
According to him, the story of Nigeria’s march towards democracy can therefore not be written without taking account of those valiant struggles by activist-journalists for a free, independent and vibrant press.
“Therefore, there is no mistaken the fact that if the independent media in Nigeria could surmount dark, and terrible days of military dictatorship, there is no reason why it will not overcome the renewed onslaught by political actors who appear to have reached the disturbing conclusion that gagging the media and shrinking the civic space are the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy,” he said.
He lamented that in the face of serious governance challenges like chronic insecurity, mass unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, unbridled corruption and extreme poverty; political actors across the federal and state levels appear fixated on “taming” the media, instead of tackling pervasive social and economic problems facing Nigerians.
He said: “It is pertinent to note that since the All Progressives Congress (APC) took over power at the federal level in 2015, it has spent enormous energy, time and resources trying to undermine freedom of expression.
“The government at the centre has exhibited crass and an excessive passion on putting forward legislations and policies, whose sole objective is to stifle freedom of expression and muzzle the Press and civil society.
“Apart from the surreptitious introduction of previous harsh legislations, which attempted to give sweeping powers to the government to curtail the rights of citizens, the government has continually shown intolerance to views and perspectives, which do not align with its own. These tendencies clearly make it evident that the current regime brooks no contrary view.”