•He wants to suppress media —PDP
•IG orders tight security in media houses
MALACHY UZENDU, Deputy Editor and EUCLID MYKE, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said that all accredited media organizations in the country, including the Africa Independent Television (AIT), are free to cover the activities of the President-elect, Maj.Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).
The AIT crew were barred on Tuesday from covering the activites of the President-elect to enable security team sort out what it described as ethics and standards.
But in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the incoming Buhari Administration would not discriminate against any media organization, irrespective of its role during the electioneering campaign leading up to the recent polls.
It however enjoined all media organizations to observe the highest level of professional standards in carrying out their duties.
‘’There is a Code of Ethics guiding the practice of journalism in Nigeria, and this demands every journalist to ensure a strict adherence to the highest levels of ethics and professionalism in carrying out their duties.
‘’There must be repercussions, within the realms of the law, for media organizations which have wantonly breached the Code of Ethics of the journalism profession and turned themselves to partisans instead of professionals. But such repercussions will not include barring any accredited media organization from covering the activities of the President-elect,’’ APC said.
But in a swift reaction, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday in Abuja described as “unacceptable” the purported directive by Buhari to bar the Africa Independent Television (AIT), from covering his activities, insisting that “the suppression of the media under any guise portends danger for the nation’s democracy”.
The PDP national publicity secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh in a statement argued that “after carefully studying the defence posited by General Buhari’s campaign spokesperson as well as the smokescreen statement by the APC to cover and mitigate his anti-media posture, the PDP and indeed all lovers of democracy are persuaded that the action was not only unjustifiable, but also unconstitutional and completely against the spirit of liberty and the rule of law in a democracy”.
Metuh maintained that the PDP nurtured the nation’s democracy in the past 16 years and cannot afford to fold its hands and watch constitutional rights, media freedom and personal liberty of Nigerians, which he insisted were the basic tenets of democracy, to be demolished.
He stated: “We ask, is this a beginning of the feared erosion of the freedom and personal liberty the media and Nigerian citizens have been enjoying in the last 16 years under the PDP led-administration? Has our dear nation finally fallen into the clutches of totalitarianism and impunity where government actions will be based on egocentric decisions and impulses of individuals rather than the rule of law?
“While we assure the President-elect of our resolve to run a mature and responsible opposition based on issues, we are disturbed by this emerging development and reassure the Nigerian people that we will continue to stand with them on issues of democracy and freedom at all times.
“Perhaps, we need to remind General Buhari that part of the challenge of his new position, even as President-elect, is that he has lost his private life which is now subject to public scrutiny and media interrogation, as required of the custodian of the mandate of the Nigerian people.
“The PDP is not oblivious of the background of the President-elect especially as it relates to the freedom of the media, but we had thought that having declared to be a converted democrat, he would make himself amenable to the basic principles of democracy by following the due process of the law on any circumstance.
“General Buhari may also wish to be reminded that the Nigerian constitution upon which provisions he emerged President-elect, also gave the media powers to cover activities of public office holders while at the same time providing legal avenues for redress in the event of any violation.
“If the right of the President-elect was in anyway violated by the AIT or any media house for that matter, he is expected to act within the law and seek redress in the courts otherwise one would have no option than to conclude that he is out for personal vendetta.
“The APC and the President-elect may have one or two lessons to pick from President Goodluck Jonathan, who though the most maligned and abused President in the history of our nation, even by the APC, allowed his actions to be sufficiently guided by humility, tolerance and the rule of law,” Metuh insisted.
The PDP called on Nigerians not to despair, but to remain steadfast and united in resisting any anti-democratic tendencies intended to instill fear in them and set the stage for a dictatorial order and the erosion of their personal freedom and liberty as citizens, which they have been enjoying in the last 16 years under the PDP.
On its part, the Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ) has condemned Buhari’s action over the plan to resuscitate the anti-democratic ethos in a democratic setting, adding that General Buhari’s action shown that the President-elect has hidden agenda in governance of this country for the next four years.
The rights group declared that Buhari should be tutored on how to conduct the act of governance in a democratic era, believing that democracy was new in the President-elect dictionary and strange to his nature because of his military dictatorship background, stressing that the Freedom of Press is one of the ground norms of democracy.
The group urged the genuine pro-democracy Nigerians to stand up and be ready to defend our current democratic experiment before the anti-democratic forces returned the country back to the dark days of military era where freedom of expression were withdrawn through draconian decree No. 2 of 1984.
Meanwhile, the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase has ordered water-tight security around media houses nationwide.
In a statement yesterday by Acting Commissioner of Police Emmanuel Ojukwu, Force Public Relations Officer, in Abuja said the IGP is concerned about the recent attacks on the media houses, and journalists and has therefore ordered water-tight security around media houses nationwide.
“This is in line with the mandate of the Nigeria Police Force to protect lives and property of the citizenry under the law. The IGP acknowledges the valuable roles of the media to the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria,” the statement reads.
The IGP further advices citizens to be more vigilant and proactive and to report any suspicious movement or persons to the Police promptly for appropriate action.