Media Twitter ban: Threat to freedom of Press —NUJ, Stakeholders

By: Ade Adeleke

“….We’ll wake up one day, FG would have banned all Nigerians from all social media platforms including; Facebook, Whatsapp, others…..”

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) 3rd National Conference today commenced in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital with a theme: “The Media, Insecurity And National Unity”.

Addressing participants and declaring open the Conference, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, urged the media and professionals to use their reports and platforms to propagate those issues that would promote just, fair and equitable Nigeria where national unity and peace would be achieved.

Wike who was represented by his Deputy, Dr (Mrs) Ipalibo Harry Banigo was inducted into the NUJ Integrity Hall of Fame.

In his keynote address, the Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, said the Media in the country had huge task of reaching the nation from be disintegrated through carrying objective and accurate reports that would foster peaceful society.

Ikpeazu said, “Our newspapers and other media stories are dominated by narratives from those benefiting from this crisis who seek an escalation of hostilities for their nefarious objectives.

“The Media has a duty not to amplify those voices and not to undertake their task for them. If someone says the sky is brown, it is not for the media to report verbatim that A said the sky is brown.

“The Media also have a role to fact-check and see for themselves the actual colour of the sky; if not, you are helping propagate falsehood and division,” the governor said.

Addressing participants from across the country, the NUJ National President, Chief Chris Isiguzo, condemned the recent twitter ban by the Federal government.

Isiguzo noted that, “The Union believes that in going forward, we have to operate against the background of the opportunities and problems associated with the information age, and we hope that this conference will provide the veritable platform to achieve this national agenda for Nigeria.

“The advent of the internet poses another dimension to this problem as terrorists also exploit it for their maximum benefit.

“The theme of this Conference: The Media, Insecurity and National Unity is timely because of the pivotal role of the media as an effective tool for addressing Issues of National Unity and Insecurity.

“While we concede the fact that, the fight against terrorism and banditry are extremely difficult, we believe that the media can contribute immensely in this regard.

In their separate submissions, a Former President of NBA, Chief O.C.J. Okocha; a former NUJ President, Sani Zorro; a former NUJ Lagos Chairman & Director of IPC, Lanre Arogundade and a media guru, Richard Akinola, stressed the need to rescue journalism profession from untimely collapse in view of different economic and political situations in the country.

Arogundade warned that “we’ll wake up one day, Federal Government would have banned all Nigerians from all the social media platforms including; Facebook, Whatsapp, others.

“How can you ban media organisations from using twitter; now NBC has written all broadcast media to stop using twitter, to even delete their twitter handles. I have never seen this kind of thing before; all these amount to danger to freedom press.”

Zorro called for caution on the side of all those who were involved in the twitter ban saga.