World Press Freedom Day: Don seeks enactment of Shield Law for journalists

A , Dr Sunny Mbazie, has call for the enactment of a Shield Act for media practitioners in Nigeria.

This, he said, would ensure anonymity of sources of for journalists, as it obtained in advanced .

Mbazie, who teaches Mass Communication at of Port Harcourt, made the call on Monday in Umuahia at a public lecture to mark the 2021 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the public lecture was organised by Abia council of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).

NAN also reports this year’ World Press Freedom Day has, as its theme: “ as a Public Good.”

According to Mbazie, since the law is not in existence in the country, any court or law enforcement agent can compel journalists to disclose their sources of .

The lecturer explained that the refusal of any journalist to disclose his/her source could be taken for contempt, which could attract sanction.

According to him, the law will help improve quality of press freedom in Nigeria.

Mbazie also called for reactivation of the extant law for the practice of journalism in the country.

He said that the press law, which had been abandoned since 1988, could be resurrected, but not without amendment, to allay any fear by Nigerians.

The also said that the existence of media council would check the conduct of any person or organisation against the media, arising from complaints of practitioners.

He said that the Freedom Act (FOI) should be amended to repeal some ‘cumbersome sections’ hindering speedy supply to meet deadlines in the newsroom.

Also speaking, Chairman of the occasion, Chief Ubani, challenged journalists to ensure that the inaccuracies and fallacies, resulting from mediocrity and outright mischief thrown up by of social media regulations, were corrected.

Ubani, who is the Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Deputy Governor, Abia, urged journalists to report responsibly and agenda for the nation through their reportage.

“The media still have the Herculean task of enlightening and educating the citizenry on the debilitating consequences of COVID-19 pandemic, if they fail to strictly comply with necessary protocols,” he said.

Earlier, the Chairman of NUJ in the state, Victor Ndukwe, said that the day served as an opportunity to remind all stakeholders, including government, of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom.

He urged governments at all levels to take the lead by properly equipping government-owned media houses and ensure regular training and retraining of their staff members.

NAN reports that the event was attended by government functionaries, veteran and practising journalists, including Mr Bonnie Iwuoha, a former NUJ President and Chief Raph Egbu, a former Secretary to Abia Government. (NAN)