Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Mr Tony Ojukwu, gave the commendation on Monday, in commemoration of the 2021 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD). The WPFD is celebrated on May 3, every year, to raise awareness on the importance of freedom of the press.
In a statement in Abuja by Mrs Fatimah Agwai-Mohammed, Deputy Director, Public Affairs, NHRC, Ojukwu extolled Nigerian journalists for exhibiting high level of professionalism, despite alleged intimidation and harassment by some members of the society.
” Majority of journalists in Nigeria have severally lived up to their professional duties to unearth wrongdoings in the society no matter whose ox is gored, even at the risk of their lives and that of their family members.
” The theme of this year’s commemoration, “Information for Public Good” is apt, because it reminds both the government and the citizens of the importance of information as a tool for national development.
” A tool particularly in the current world order where the new or social media is making tremendous impact on people’s attitudes and perceptions.
“It is, therefore, instructive that the media, which has remained an agent of socialisation, can rightly be deployed to drive government policies and programmes to the grassroots level,” Ojukwu stated.
He further reiterated the need to widen the civic space rather than shrinking it, noting that the media existed for the public good and by extension, a catalyst for openness and good governance.
He added that the recent Legislations and policies of the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), which had been challenged by well-meaning Nigerians, should be revisited to avoid human rights infringements in the administration of such legislations and policies.
“Similarly, we stand with the Civil Society to condemn attempts by some parliamentarians to pass bills restricting social media and civic space.
“We also stand with civil society to condemn attempts by the NBC to impose excessive fines on media houses for activities based on information to the citizens, ” Ojukwu said.
He, however, urged the management of the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) to put effective modalities in place so as to rid the system of quacks.
Ojikwu added that such quacks practiced in the profession in a wrong way, thereby perpetrating fake news, hate speech and other unethical conducts which were capable of causing national disunity.
” Journalists are seen as human rights defenders, the UN system, African Union (AU) and other international bodies should persuade their member nations to put stringent legislation in place to curb violence against journalists.
” Also, to promote life insurance policies for them (journalists ) in countries where they are not already in place. This will ensure that families of any deceased or maimed journalists are given the social security protection that they deserve,” Ojukwu added. (NAN)