No Press Freedom Guaranteed By Nigeria Constitution – Iredia

Channels Television  
Updated April 1, 2014

Tonnie-IrediaA former Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority, Dr Tonnie Iredia, says there is no Press Freedom in Nigeria.

At a National Universities Commissions’ lecture series on ‘Nigeria and Press Freedom’ held in Abuja on Monday, he said that the Nigerian Constitution does not guaranty the freedom of the press as seen in other countries.

He stated that the constitution only guaranties the freedom of speech.

“Section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution empowers the Nigerian media to hold government accountable to the people. That section gives the press a lot of functions to carry out. But functions and powers are not the same. The fact that you have a function does not give you the necessary powers.

“In Section 39 the constitution gave the power to the general public. Although the media is part of the public, the media is not isolated for power the way it was isolated for functions,” he said.

Dr Iredia insisted that the media that must write, speak and propagate, should have specific powers if they were expected to perform better.

He said that the Nigerian media were expected to deduce their powers from the general power given to the public.

The only protection provided in section 39(2) of the Nigerian Constitution is for the owners of the media and not the practitioners.   

In May 2011, the Freedom of Information Act was enacted aimed at making public records and information more freely available and to also protect public records and information to the extent consistent with the public interest and the protection of personal privacy.

The Act also seeks to protect serving public officers from any adverse consequences of disclosing certain kinds of official information without authorisation, and to establish procedures for the achievement of these purposes.

The Act, however, did not give the press the needed power that Dr Iredia stressed was necessary for the media to perform its watchdog role effectively.