Estimated reading time: 12 minute(s)
In commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crime Against Journalists, civil society organizations, lawyer, security agency and community leader have made a case for the protection and safety of media practitioners before, during and after the 2023 elections.
The stakeholders made the call on Sunday during a panel discussion at an event held at the NUJ Secretariat, Oke-Ilewo, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
They stressed that the safety of journalists must be guaranteed while carrying out their constitutional duties.
PLATFORM TIMES reports that the panelists said this while discussing the theme; “2023: Safety of the press – before, during and after”.
In his welcome speech, the chairman of the occasion, Asiwaju Olalekan Olakunle, commended the convenor of the event, Simon Fakeye.
Olakunle condemned the attacks on journalists, while also charging security agencies to protect pressmen during the coverage of elections.
He said, “Firstly, I want to commend the Convener of this programme because there is no other time to discuss the theme of this year’s event than the one we all have come here together to discuss.
“As the 2023 election is fast approaching, issues are being discussed; and if all other issues are being talked about without considerable discussion about the safety of the media and its practitioners, I don’t think we have begun the discourse at all.”
However, one of the panelists, Barrister Kayode Aderemi encouraged journalists to change their approach to covering elections.
Aderemi added that the media should also build a synergy with other stakeholders involved in elections.
He said, “There is a way I work with journalists when I have a high profile case; I think journalists should also do the same by working with security agencies. I also expect that lawyers are members of committees of the NUJ in case an issue of assaulting, detaining or harassment comes up”.
Also speaking as a panelist, the publisher, Prestige newspaper, Dada Olanipekun made a call to security agencies to provide protective equipment for journalists, adding that journalists’ safety must be guaranteed.
Olanipekun stressed that security agencies usually show concern to the safety of politicians at the poll, adding that journalists are left to their own fate when crises break out at an election ground.
The veteran also advised journalists against brown envelope journalism, while suggesting that media houses should remunerate their staff handsomely.
Meanwhile, the Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Niyi Ajibola, vowed that the safety of everyone at the election ground will be guaranteed.
Ajibola, who was represented by his deputy, stressed that it is important journalists know about the terrain they are carrying out their duties in case there is a crisis.
He further said the Corps will consider the request by the journalists to provide them with protective equipment during the coverage of elections.
Also, one of the panelists from a civil society organisation, Campaign for Democracy, Comrade Dolapo Junaid emphasized that politicians should change their mindsets towards journalists and civil societies.
Addressing newsmen after the event, Convener of the event, Simon Fakeye, said the programme was to advocate against the threat and Impunity faced by journalists.
Fakeye stressed that the media as the fourth estate of the realm must be free in order to be able to hold the government accountable.
His words: “It is a programme established in 2013 resulting from the assassination of two journalists from Mali and it is to end impunity and thus has to do with a situation where perpetrators of crime go unpunished.
“In no time, people will think it is normal to attack or assault or assassinate journalists.
“So, the UN has come up with this programme that it has to be stopped for the world to have a true Democratic society because in a situation where there is no free press, there can’t be true democracy.
“This is because opinions, information and reports will be muffled; people will not have access to information. So, there should not be any threat to journalists for doing their professional job
“In Ogun State, in the last ten months, there have been about 4 cases of assaults on journalists and what has the government done about it? It seems the Impunity continues.
“The perpetrators have gone unpunished. So, we have to stop it because we are the fourth estate of the realm, and for us to play our role; to hold the government accountable, journalists need to report what they see and what happens. But with threats and assault around, that cannot happen.”
Estimated reading time: 1 minute(s)
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