The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) have called for the display of professionalism and unbiased reportage as the nation moves towards electing a new set of leaders in February next year.
They also want a situation where the press will not be hindered in any way to the performance of its constitutional duties.
The two bodies spoke through their National Presidents, Mustapha Isah and Chris Iziguzo, yesterday, while reacting to the face-off between the Board of THIS DAY/ ARISE TV News and the media team of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu.
Recall that THISDAY Newspaper had, yesterday, written that the APC media team picked on its Chairman, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, because of some stories they ran on Tinubu.
They specifically accused Onanuga and another colleague of his, Dele Alake, of attempting to bully and silence independent media as the general elections approach.
They also alleged that the media team was threatening them with sanctions from the Nigerian Press Council (NPC)
Reacting, Isah, in a phone chat with Vanguard said: “The National Executive Council of the Nigerian Guild of Editors has to meet and take a position on issues like that.
“However, in my personal opinion, I will want us as media practitioners to be professional in the discharge of our duties and not biased.
“If you are professional and unbiased, we will stand by you as a guild.”
Isiguzo, reacting said democracy does not exist or thrive in darkness.
He noted that political gladiators must respect the rights of media practitioners to perform their duty without any hindrance.
He said: “Any democratic governance that does not allow the people to freely express themselves is not democracy.
“The press remains the appropriate channel through which the people, who are the bedrock of democracy express themselves.
We believe that political actors must respect the rights of the people to know and not by their actions or inactions create a caged atmosphere for the media.
“Free press remains one of the key features of a thriving democracy and by the way, the oxygen, the very air that sustains democracy is the media.
“We must protect this because once the people’s rights to know is no longer guaranteed, democracy takes flight,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Board of Editors of ThisDay/ARISE News has accused the All Progressives Congress, APC, Presidential Campaign Council’s (PCC) Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Bayo Onanuga and its Director, Strategic Communication, Mr. Dele Alake of attempting to silence independent media, and bully free press ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The ThisDay/Arise News Boards of Editors in a joint statement titled: “Tinubu and THISDAY/ARISE Media Group and the Attack on Free Speech,” said out of envy and pettiness, Alake and Onanuga had launched continuous attacks on their Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, Prince Nduka Obaigbena.
The editors pointed out that in at least four separate press statements and interviews in the last three weeks, Onanuga and Alake, instead of responding to issues or sending petition to the organisation’s Ombudsman, have variously accused the group of bias against the APC Presidential Candidate, Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“They are wrong. Truth and the pursuit thereof, and the reporting of facts is no bias. The duo has taken unprofessionalism, recklessness, picayune politics and blackmail to a new art form. After their first press statement, we ignored them; but they authored a second statement, which we again ignored, not wanting to insert ourselves into the political discourse.
“But the more we have ignored them the more they have mistaken our silence for cowardice and continued their unrelentless attacks with virulence, even threatening us with The Nigerian Press Council.
“A Press Council that has been completely rejected by the mainstream independent Nigerian media precisely for this reason: misuse and abuse by an incipient dictatorship.
“Imagine these insecure duo of Onanuga and Alake already threatening the free press when they are seeking our votes. What will they do if Tinubu was elected President? Kill independent media or take their markets over using the power of the state and replacing them with media platforms they control and which kowtow to them?” the editors said.
The editors pointed out that the attacks intensified since the publication in the THISDAY edition of 18th November, 2022 of the death of one Mueez Adegboyega Akande, a Tinubu associate mentioned as being involved, by US authorities, in a drug trafficking investigation of the APC candidate in 1993.
According to the editors, the THISDAY report introduced the person that died as Mueez but included a condolence message from Lagos State governor to the family of Dr. Kolapo Akande.
“Did ThisDay mix-up the identity (of two brothers?) We needed to be sure before issuing an apology. We needed to hear from the family. Till date we have not heard from the family. The fact is that mistakes in reporting the death of someone who may not have died is not unusual in the media.
“But then a quick statement from the family of the person so reported to have died, as happened when the media mistakenly reported the death of the late nationalist and past President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, in the ‘90s, would have quickly laid the matter to rest.
However, for some strange reasons, Mueez, since the publication of the story, has not disowned the THisDay report that he was not dead, nor has any of his family members.
Therefore, the editors stated that they found it curious that it was the APC Presidential Campaign Council that would issue a statement that the person that died was Kolapo, not Mueez. (Vanguard)
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