Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has petitioned Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to press the Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Nigerian Senate to withdraw a bill which “aims to undermine constitutionally and internationally recognized media freedom in the country”.
The Senate had passed the bill for second reading despite subsisting court case and strong opposition to it.
In a petition signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, the organisation said criminalising media freedom would not only violate the rights of journalists and media practitioners to carry out their legitimate work but undermine the ability of Nigerians and others in the country to be informed on events of critical importance and participate in the governance process.
“The bill would escalate the growing threats and attacks on the right to freedom of expression and media freedom and have a powerful chilling effect across the country.
“The proposed bill by the Senate is a major threat to media independence and diversity in the country and shows lack of understanding of the essential role of independent media in the sustainability of the country’s democratic dispensation. SERAP believes that a free and independent media would facilitate public participation, governmental accountability and improve democratic institutions.”
The petition copied to Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, reads in part: “The bill by the Senate also stems in part from increasingly irresponsible framing of journalists as ‘enemies’ by political leaders and aims at stifling public debate of issues such as allegations of corruption in the Senate and investigative reporting in the public interest.
“The bill would also restrict the free flow of information and ideas, which is one of the most powerful ways of combating corruption and holding public officials including lawmakers accountable.
“Despite strong opposition from media practitioners to the bill, the Senate of Nigeria is pushing hard to accelerate the passage of this obnoxious bill, which has already passed the second reading.
“SERAP is concerned that if passed into law the bill would contravene Nigeria’s international legal obligations, including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”
SERAP therefore requested the Special Rapporteur to: Publicly express concerns about the proposed bill and insist that the Senate of Nigeria should immediately withdraw the bill;
“Urge the Senate President and the leadership of the Senate of Nigeria to allow the right to freedom of expression and media freedom without fear of criminal prosecution, and not to contemplate impermissible restrictions to these constitutionally and internationally recognized freedoms;
“Urge the Senate President and the leadership of the Senate of Nigeria to show commitment to the fundamental right of all to free and unhindered access to information;
“Urge the Senate President and the leadership of the Senate of Nigeria to take steps to end all initiatives to use flawed legislation to restrict media freedom ahead of the 2019 general elections”.
Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Sultan, Others Brainstorm On Insecurity
Rising insecurity and agitations for secession by different ethnic groups across Nigeria has attracted the attention of elder statesmen and other national leaders to a meeting in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by Interfaith Initiatives for Peace jointly led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the National Peace Committee chaired by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
Reporters were barred from taking part in the closed-door meeting, expected to proffer solutions to the ongoing security challenges threatening the peace and unity of the country.
It was also an exploratory meeting on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Tor Tiv, Prof Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse, Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan; President General (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Prof George Obiozor; and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo; were all in attendance.
Others sighted at the meeting are President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Etsu Nupe, Yahya Abubakar; former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, among several political and traditional rulers at the meeting.
Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, also attended the event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but could not participate in the meeting because he could not climb the staircase to the meeting room.
Fighting Corruption Difficult In Democratic Setting, Buhari Laments
President Muhammadu Buhari says fighting corruption in democratic setting is a difficult task to accomplish.
The president disclosed this during an interview with Arise Television which was televised, yesterday.
According to him, the war against corruption has not been easy for him since he became a democratically elected president six years ago.
He, however, stressed that his administration had succeeded in easing out corrupt public officials without making noise about it.
Buhari recalled that much was achieved in the fight against corruption when he was military Head of State in the early 80s “when a lot of people were sent to prisons before I was also booted out”.
The president frowned at the way and manner local government system was being managed, saying the local government administration was almost non-existent in the country.
He cited situation where state governors continued to starve the local governments of funds saying “in a situation where N300million is allocated to local government and they are given N100million is not fair”.
On activities of bandits and kidnappers particularly in the North-West and North-Central zones, Buhari said he had given the police and Armed Forces the instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising innocent citizens across the country.
He stated that he had told the security agencies to treat bandits and other criminals in the “the language they understand.
“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages.
“Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.
“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.
”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.
“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.
“We are already in enough trouble. So, we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference,’’ he said.
On farmers/herders clashes, the president said the problem had persisted because old cattle routes and grazing areas had been violated by development, adding that those who had taken over such traditional arrangements would be dispossessed.
On the fight against insurgency, Buhari dismissed the assertion that majority of Boko Haram members were foreigners.
According to him, the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians, saying this was further corroborated by Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum.
The president stated that his administration had done a lot to fight the terrorists and insurgents but the problem in the “North-East is very difficult.”
Igboho Declares June 12 Day Of Protest, Warns Buhari
Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has declared June 12 as day of protest for Yoruba nation agitators.
The self-acclaimed Yoruba activist said the agitators will hold ‘peaceful rallies’ across the South-West region on Saturday, June 12.
Igboho, who spoke through his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in a live video programme aired, last Wednesday night, called on South-West governors to cooperate with the peaceful protesters during the exercise.
He warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to attack the agitators.
He said, “Let us warn the Federal Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot.
“The Yoruba nation rally will go ahead in every part of Yoruba land and the rest of the country where it will hold.
“Red alarm will begin on Friday. People should stock up food Items from Friday night.
“We are not backing down this weekend; we are ready to take back what belongs to us.”
He also enjoined agitators to ‘fast’ on Friday.
This is coming after NANS under the leadership of its National President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, had declared June 12 as National Day of peaceful protest to call on the government to act decisively towards addressing insecurity.
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