Despite FOI Act, FG still acts like military regime — Ehusani

The Executive Director of Lux Terra Leadership Foundation, Rev. Fr. George Ehusani, Wednesday, said despite the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI Act, the Federal Government is acting like old military regimes.

Ehusani, a rights activist and cleric, spoke in Abuja at the stakeholders’ forum on journalists’ safety and press freedom limitations in Nigeria, organised by the International Press Centre (IPC).

Though he did not mention the current All Progressives Congress () led government, the activist decried the persecution of the Nigerian journalists through repressive laws.

He said: “In 2011, Nigerian passed into law Freedom of Information legislation. This was hailed as a major breakthrough for the information regime in Nigeria, but the state has since then continued to act as if it is still under the old military regime, even if the FOI Act states clearly that it supersedes the 1962 Official Secrets Act.

“Some of the repressive decrees imposed on Nigeria’s information space include: Newspapers (Prohibition of Circulation) decree no 17 of 1967, Public Officers ( Against False Accusation) Decree No 11 of 1976, Newspaper (Prohibition of Circulation) (Validation) Decree No. 12 of 1978, and the infamous Decree No 4 of 1984.

“Under the military in Nigeria, journalists were routinely harassed, abused, media houses were often shut down, and newspapers were seized and destroyed. Since the return to democratic rule in 1999, not much has changed.

“As recently as October , in the course of the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria, journalists ended up as . At least one media house in Lagos was set on fire. Journalists were detained for simply doing their work’’.

In their separate presentations, of the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), Mr Mustapha Isa, and President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists () Mr Chris Isiguzo, respectively lamented the attacks on journalists.

Isah called for the review of the National Broadcasting Code to reflect democracy, saying that broadcast houses were operating in fear.

Also, Isiguzo called on the media stakeholders and professionals to close ranks and speak against efforts by state agents to undermine journalists’ rights to free expression.

Earlier, the Executive Director of IPC, Mr Lanre Arogundade, had disclosed that the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) posed threats to the broadcast media through arbitrary imposition of fines and issuance of threats to close them. 

In her presentation, the Programme Officer of IPC, Melody Lawal, said in , 48 journalists and 56 media houses were attacked in Nigeria.

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