Nigerian Guild of Editors, Ekiti govt slam Senate's anti-freedom bill
The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) wants an immediate suspension of the
PETITIONS (PROHIBITIONS ETC) BILL, 2015.”
The Guild believes that the immediate and overall objective of the bill is to deny Nigerians, especially the media, freedom of expression, which the people so much cherish.
Ekiti State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Owoseni
Ajayi has expressed concern over the Anti-Media Bill proposed by All
Progressives Congress’s Senator, Bala Ibn Na’allah.
In a statement on Sunday signed by Garba Deen Muhamma, the Guild said, The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) demands, unconditionally, that the Senate of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria suspends all proceedings with respect to a proposed Bill, “FRIVOLOUS
PETITIONS (PROHIBITIONS ETC) BILL, 2015.”
“The broad objective of this curiously accelerated Bill is to outlaw the freedom of expression of
all Nigerian citizens and freedom of speech of all media organizations operating in print,
electronic and on-line platforms in Nigeria and beyond. Appallingly, the Bill has also included as
its target very personal and private means of communication such as SMS or text messages and
WhatsApp, among others.
“The freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed in section 22 and 39(1) of the 1999 Nigerian
constitution respectively. Therefore, to enact any kind of law under any guise that will contradict
these fundamental provisions is to deliberately seek to undermine the Constitution of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria.
“We are, therefore, concerned that a group of persons elected by Nigerians to ensure that their
rights, privileges and interests are protected, should gleefully misuse the mandate given to them
to the detriment of the same people that elected them.
“As other concerned individuals and groups have pointed out, the Senate should note that thereare already existing laws in our Constitution that can accommodate all the concerns, real or
imagined, that the proposed Bill is expected to address. These laws include the Cyber Crime
(Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act 2015, the Libel law etc.
“In view of this and the glaring danger posed by the proposed Bill, the NGE is strongly advising
the Senate to drop all proceedings on the proposed Bill and turn its attention instead to critical
areas in need of urgent intervention.
“While believing that members of the Senate have a right both individually and collectively to
express their concerns about the abuse of the cyberspace by unscrupulous people and
organizations, we advise them to consolidate or strengthen the existing laws and enforce
implementation.””We call on all Nigerians that are justifiably peeved by the very consideration of enacting such
obnoxious law to remain calm and express their opposition through lawful means.
“However, we frown at on-line fraudsters who take advantage of the vulnerable cyber space to
carry out cyber bullying, stealing, stalking and all manner of cybercrimes.”
The Ekiti attorney general on his part advised the National Assembly must not allow itself to be used to bring back
Decree 4 that was used against the press between 1984 and 1985 that
President Mohammadu Buhari was military Head of State and the Sedition
Law that the British Colonial Masters used against our fathers, who
fought for the independence of Nigeria.The Attorney-General, who declared that holders of public offices must
be answerable to the people at all times, added that; “those of us
holding public offices must be mindful of the temptation of seeing
ourselves as being above the people. We are not God that cannot be
questioned. In fact, nothing should be private about us that the
public must not know.”
In a statement issued in Ado-Ekiti on Sunday, Owoseni Ajayi, who said
the Ekiti State government was against the bill in its entirety, noted
“that bill proposed by Senator Bala Ibn Na’allah is not
different from Buhari's Protection Against False Accusations Decree 4
of 1984, which was considered as the most repressive press law ever
enacted in Nigeria.”
He said Nigerians were not unmindful of the fact that the APC rode to
power on the back of free press and credible electoral process that
was allowed by the Peoples Democratic Government of Dr Goodluck
Jonathan, adding that; “the APC as a party must be ready to
accommodate even more than the media attacks it gave PDP when it was
in the opposition.”
The Commissioner for Justice said; “Isn't it funny that the same
media, especially the social media that the APC used against the PDP
has now become an enemy that the APC led federal government is
desperate to suppress? What are they afraid of?
“It is painful that anyone could bring such bill to the Senate, and
even more painful that the bill was allowed to pass through the first
“However, let those seeing the bill as a means of protecting
themselves realise that they won't be in power forever. They should
therefore refrain themselves from acts capable of taking Nigeria back
to those years of dictatorship that journalists were jailed
indiscriminately and media houses shut for years. They should remember
Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor of The Guardian newspapers.
“Most importantly, the Senate should be mindful of the fact that the
offences the proposed bill seeks to criminalise already exist under
Nigerian laws, including those on treason, defamation and libel.
“Lastly, let those supporting the obnoxious bill know that under a
democratic government, there cannot be criminal libel or defamation.
There can also not be a return of Decree 4 of 1984 and the Sedition
Law of the Colonial days.”
The post Nigerian Guild of Editors, Ekiti govt slam Senate’s anti-freedom bill appeared first on THE RAINBOW NEWS ONLINE .