The Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, has faulted the attempt by the Federal Government to censor the media, saying it is worse than the infamous Decree 4 of 1984, which was put into effect during the military era.
The forum stated this through its President, Mustapha Isah, in Lagos, and vowed to resist it. condemned the recent anti-media actions of the [present government.
Recall that on June 4, 2021, the federal government had announced the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria saying the microblogging site has been persistently used for activities capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence, even as the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, last week asked the House of Representatives to pass laws regulating internet broadcasting and social media in Nigeria.
It also charged the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, to regulate prices, rates and tariffs imposed by satellite and cable television service providers in the country.
However, in reaction NGE President stated that the current action by the government was worse than the draconian Decree 4, noting that it was meant to restrain press freedom.
According to him: “There is an onslaught on press freedom in this country. Aside from the move to regulate press freedom, look at the bill to amend the Act setting up the Nigerian Press Council and the National Broadcasting Commission.
”You could see the very obnoxious positions that if they are allowed to pass, then, forget about press freedom in this country. It is that bad.
“At present, we are planning series of actions against the design to completely muzzle press freedom in this country and we will not allow it. We will not sit idly and allow them to do that.
“Freedom of expression is in our constitution. This is even beyond Decree 4 right now; what is happening is beyond Decree 4. In a democracy? This won’t be allowed. The NGE is already working with other organisations such as the NUJ (Nigeria Union of Journalists) and other civil society organisations on actions.
“I don’t want to pre-empt our eventual agreement but we are not happy at all. In 2015, if the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had put in place these laws, would the All Progressive Congress, APC, had got into power in 2015?
”It is said that those who benefitted from freedom of expression are now muzzling the same freedom of expression they used in getting into power in 2015, Isah added.”