The Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) has denounced the latest guideline for journalists covering the National Assembly (NASS), saying it is an attempt by the legislators to silence the media.
ANRP disclosed this in a statement signed by its spokesman Mr Sesugh Akume on Friday in Abuja, describing the new guideline as “despotic, unreasonable, and an attempt to muffle and silence the press.’’
It would be recalled that the NASS issued a guideline for media organisations seeking accreditation to cover parliamentary news, to submit evidence of a daily circulation of 40,000 copies of their newspapers among others.
According to Akume, the accreditation guideline for press corps under any establishment should not stifle press freedom, rather, enhance professionalism, fair and non-partisan reportage.
“The media is referred as the ‘fourth estate of the realm’ placing it alongside three arms of government because of its watchdog role, which is vital to a functioning democracy.
“The guidelines negate the constitutional principle of freedom of expression and run contrary to the African Charter on Fundamental Rights and the right of the people to know.
“The media is the eyes and ears of citizens in a democracy. It should be monitored not controlled.
“The freedom of press is guaranteed in section 22 of the 99 constitution, therefore, all attempts by whatever bodies to subvert the rights should not be allowed,”he said.
Akume, however, urged NASS management to dialogue with all stakeholders to arrive at standardised, reasonable and acceptable guideline for media houses and journalists covering its activities.
Dr Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, has dissociated himself from the guideline saying it was the sole decision NASS management led by the Clerk, Mohammed Sani-Omolori.
Saraki, in a statement by his Special Assistant on New Media, Mr Olu Onemola, said he remained committed to the freedom of the press.(NAN)