By Olaitan Oye-Adeitan
The Institute for Media and Society, IMS, has called for an investigation into all pending cases of attacks on journalists and other media professionals including those committed during the recent elections.
IMS Executive Director, Dr Akin Akingbulu made the call in his message on World Press Freedom Day.
He recognized the active role and resilience of media in Nigeria especially in the promotion of transparency, accountability, and good governance but expressed concern over the mounting challenges confronting journalists, with particular reference to the just concluded elections in Nigeria where some journalists were attacked, arrested, harassed and denied access to election activities.
Dr Akingbulu harped on the need to be more committed to their protection, provision of conducive working environment and promotion of democracy.
“Journalists and other media professionals have frequently exposed corruption, beamed the searchlight on human rights violation and reported on public interest events, issues and trends. In the cause of these constitutionally supported contributions, journalists have faced obstacles which jeopardised their ability to perform their duties without fear of favour”. Dr Akingbulu said.
He also noted with dismay anti-media legislation, citing the example of laws establishing government broadcasting outfits which contained harsh censorship provisions which hamper editorial freedom.
“Equally Worrisome is the rash bills proposed for the passage into law in the National Assembly. Public Policy development is also an area of critical concern. For a long time, there has been no visible policy document for the media and expression sector”. Dr Akingbulu noted.
The IMS Director therefore wants government among other things to collaborate with media stakeholders to develop an up-to-date, international standard policy for the information sector.
He underscored the need for reformed media legislation and broadcasting regulations in consonance with the direction of the media policy.
“Make the National Human Rights Protection Action Plan recently approved by the Federal government publicly available for citizens’ contribution and engagements. Remove all obnoxious laws such as those on sedition, criminal defamation etc. Implement the judgement of the ECOWAS court which mandated the amendments of section 24 of the cybercrime act.
While lauding the establishment of a National Media Complaints Commission, Dr Akingbulu implored the media to ensure its effective management and sustainability.
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