IPI NIgeria President stressed that Section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution compelled the press, including radio, television and other agencies of the mass media to, at all times, be free to hold government accountable to the people.
A former Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Professor Tonnie Iredia, who presented themed “Journalism Under Digital Siege”, identified some of the challenges faced by Nigerian journalists.
He mentioned ownership and control, weak constitutional backing, insufficient and obsolete facilities, poor/irregular remuneration and digital siege as some of the challenges faced by the press in Nigeria.
Iredia who argued that Section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution did not empower the press as widely believed noted, “Nigerian journalists are under constant surveillance now, social media is there monitoring every activity of newsrooms.
“The most serious challenge for me is that there’s no constitutional backing. I have seen some journalists mistakenly saying that Section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution empowers the media, that’s wrong. Section 22 of the Nigeria Constitution is an assignment, it’s not an empowerment. Instead of giving power to do it, they generalised the power, saying freedom of speech not freedom of press. These aren’t the same thing.
“Why must we be scared of giving the media the power to do what Section 22 of the Constitution asked them to do? The freedom we are saying is restricted to ownership. Professionals aren’t protected by laws in Nigeria. “
He noted that Section 162 of the Ghanaian Constitution specifically gave power to the press, same with Section 36 of the Malawi’s Constitution.
“Go to the United States, there’s a law that states nothing shall be done to abridge the freedom of the press. So, these people know the meaning of press,” he added.
Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Police Force Olumuyiwa Adejobi advised journalists to be conversant with the legal framework guiding media practice in the country.
President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Chris Isiguzo said the association is initiating legislation that will empower the media.
The event was organised by the IPI and NUJ to commodate the World Press Freedom Day 2022.