May 26, 2024

NAS urges Eno to protect rights of journalists

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NAS urges Eno to protect rights of journalists

Akpan Umoh, Uyo

The National Association of Seadogs has urged the Akwa Ibom State Governor-elect, Mr Umo Eno to uphold press freedom by protecting the rights of journalists as well as media practitioners as pillars for the sustenance of democracy.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Eket chapter of the National Association of Seadogs, Atlantic Shore Deck and signed by Cap’n Utibe Ikot, to commemorate the 2023 World Press Freedom Day and made available to newsmen in Uyo on Wednesday.

“The World Press Freedom Day is commemorated globally, on 3rd May of every year, and was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in 1993. 

“The Day provides an opportunity to celebrate press freedom and to evaluate the state of press freedom, globally and locally.

“They highlight the importance of protecting the independence of the media and the rights of journalists to report without fear of intimidation, censorship, or violence,” he said.

Ikot said that the Association is committed to the entrenchment of a just and egalitarian society where human dignity is upheld irrespective of tribe, religion or Creed. 

He reminded the incoming administration of the need to respect their commitment and uphold their obligation to press freedom.

He urged the incoming administration to also provide an enabling environment for journalists and media practitioners to practice their chosen profession without fear of intimidation, threats, blackmail and outright imprisonment.

“This is imperative because the press provides the platform for a multiplicity of voices to be heard. At both the national, and state level, it is the public’s watchdog, activist, and guardian as well as educator, entertainer, and contemporary chronicler.

“Press freedom is an essential pillar to any democracy, especially that of an emerging democracy like Nigeria,” he said.

NAS urges Eno to protect rights of journalists

He charged Journalists to maintain their role as a watchdog and a check on government, society and business as the media must remain vigilant and committed to the truth which requires a commitment to rigorous fact-checking, independent reporting, and a willingness to challenge the powerful.

“Freedom of the press is a fundamental right that is essential to the functioning of a democratic society and the maintenance of other human rights.

“As the eyes and ears of the public, journalists must be able to report upon matters of public interest without fear of arrest or other forms of interference.”

He observed that press freedom, though enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, seems continually elusive.

Ikot listed factors that hinder press freedom as obnoxious legislation such as the Cybercrime Act, secrecy, legal pressure, monetary inducement by politicians and other interested parties and fake news from unscrupulous partisan media outlets among others.

He added that the Nigerian media lack statutory institutional back-up to support practitioners and journalists in the dispensation of their duties as the ‘Fourth Estate of the Realm’, grant them access to information, and insulate them from threats of intimidation.

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