The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has urged the Federal, state and local governments in the country to provide a media friendly environment for the solidification and advancement of democracy in the country.
The National President of NUJ, Mr Chris Iziguzo, made the call in his address of welcome at the inauguration of Press Freedom Report in Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the report titled: “The State of Media Freedom in Nigeria” was put together by Media Foundation for West and NUJ, and supported by OSIWA and Hawlett.
The report documented over 300 incidences of violation and impunity against journalists in the country.
Iziguzo explained that journalists in the country were facing serious challenges in carrying out their constitutional responsibility.
“There is the need for the government at all levels to respect the right of journalists and practitioners and make the environment media friendly.
“This is because the future of democracy all over the world including Nigeria is press freedom and the rule of law.
Thus, to enhance a true and solidified democracy the media must be give unfettered access to express itself,” Iziguzo said.
Speaking, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Press Council (NPC) Mr Francis Nwosu, said that the challenges in the practice of journalism could not be over-emphasised.
Nwosu said that the NPC do not censor journalist or newspaper outfits, adding that they involve in post publication review to ensure adherence to code of ethics and ethical standards.
“Press freedom is very important. However, a journalist must practice with high sense of responsibility, this because our society is very fragile in terms of religion and tribe.
“Unfortunately, NUJ, Newspaper Proprietors/owners, Nigerian Guild of Editors have not constituted the board.
“However, I want to urge all stakeholders to put their heads together to move the media industry forward. This will go a long way to ensuring professionalism and press freedom.
“I want practitioners to understand that regulation is not censorship. If you don’t have what is regulating you, then you will lose focus and direction.
“We regulate the print media. Ethical practice should be the key. Ethics is everything,” Nwosu stressed.
Similarly, Mrs Suwaisa Jibrin, the Director of Programmes, ActionAid Nigeria, said, “the role of the press is important and should be allowed to continue without hindrance.
“They should be allow to continue to demand for accountability from the people in government. We see press freedom as a right and government should always listen and act right”.
A legal practitioner, Mr Frank Tietie, said that journalists hold the key to good governance and should be given free hand in carrying out their constitutional responsibility.
Meanwhile Mr Emmanuel Ogbeche, the NUJ Chairman FCT Council, said the 18 pages report was for the safety of journalist and unlimited access to report without fear of intimidation or harassments.
Ogbeche explained that the criminalisation of journalists, especially when a report does not please some people in the place of authority, should stop with immediate effect.
He encouraged the Media Foundation for West Africa, OSIWA and Hewlett to continue to support journalists with the aim of ensuring that press freedom is upheld in the country. (NAN)