The Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Wednesday called for caution in implementation of the state of emergency, declared by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states of Nigeria.
The NUJ also threatened to commence picketing of media houses that were yet to offset salaries owed to their workers from next Monday. Not less than five Lagos-based media houses are to be affected in the exercise that would be simultaneously executed in Lagos, Abuja and other states of the federation.
National President of NUJ, Mallam Mohammed Garba who briefed journalists in Abuja in a joint media conference with President of Radio Television Theater Workers Union, ( RATTAWU) Yemisi Bamigboshe. and NUPRO said there was need for soldiers to stick to the rule of engagement in a battle situation especially as they are engaged in a battle where civilians population is dominance.
According to him “there was need for soldiers deployed to the states to be civil in whatever action they are going to take and ensure that the actions do not undermine the ongoing negotiations with the sect being championed by the Federal Government.
The union said it based its caution on previous reports of overzealousness of soldiers drafted to battle insurgents in Borno State.
He noted that the union believes that no amount of solution is too much to achieve peace and appealed to the Boko Haram sect to reconsider its position and give peace a chance by accepting the amnesty offer.
The president expressed the hope that government will continue to be sincere in the implementation of the amnesty programme.
Speaking on the plan to picket defaulting media houses, Mallam Mohammed noted that the union appreciated the harsh economic condition in the country as well as the difficulties associated with revenue drive but insisted that the factors cannot be entertained as excuse for media houses to owe their staff.
He warned defaulting media houses to close shop and allow those with capacity to drive the media industry if they cannot afford to pay salaries.
The NUJ president described owing of media practitioners as really worrisome and an act that encourages corruption in the industry.
According to him, the leadership of the union and its sister associations were working on a new document that would stipulate code of conduct for journalism practice in the country.
On his part comrade Chuks Ehirim appealed to the Federal and state governments to assist the NUJ on what they are doing as most media owners are contractors to government at all levels and their support is critical to the success of this move.
He added that some of them also gain political patronage from these government because of the media organization which they own.
“Government should stop patronizing media owners who do not consider it fit to pay salaries to their employees it is our considered opinion that if such pressure is applied by government many of those who are owing their workers now will have a change of mind.”
The union sees it as a high moral burden which it had to fight because the non-payment of media salaries contribute more than any other factor to the unethical conducts reported to the NUJ as perpetrated by journalists.
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