Social Media Regulation: FG Not Attempting To Gag The Media – Lai Mohammed

 

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has said that the recent move by the Federal Government to regulate the social media space from fake news and hate speech is not aimed at gagging the media.

Mr Mohammed made this known when he received the National Executives of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by its President, Christopher Isiguzo on a courtesy visit in Abuja.

He said that if the NUJ and other media professional bodies, they should reach out and engages the government, instead of rushing to the media to condemn the move to protect the integrity of the media.

“As a professional body for journalists, the NUJ has its code of ethics for journalists, and this guides their operation. To the best of my knowledge, the trained, professional journalists cannot afford to engage in fake news, because this will kill public trust in the media. They also cannot afford to engage in hate speech, because of its implication for national peace and unity. After all, there has to be a country before you can even practice your profession.

“When we announced the plan to regulate the social media, we said clearly that the regulation is not an attempt to gag the media or muzzle free speech; we said journalists have nothing to fear.”

READ ALSO: Hate Speech Bill: Propose Death Penalty For Corrupt Politicians, Falana Tells NASS

Mr Mohammed urged media practitioners to lead in sanitizing the social media space because they will be the first victim when the people lose confidence in the media due to the reckless actions of non-journalists and purveyors of fake news and hate speech.

“We will not unilaterally impose measures aimed at injecting sanity into the social media space. We will work with stakeholders, including the NUJ, Guild of Editors, Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, the Civil Society, Online Publishers, Bloggers, etc.

“Already, we have dispatched letters to these stakeholders. A government that has the intention of gagging the media won’t engage stakeholders in dialogue on the way forward.”

He explained that the Federal Government has taken the initiative to adopt the use of technology, legislation and regulatory bodies, but it is up to the stakeholders to decide the best option.

“But we have also taken the initiative to meet, very soon, with the platform owners, like Facebook, Whatsapp, Google, Twitter and Instagram, among others, to engage them on the way forward.

“But I must say that rushing to reject the plan without bothering to understand what it entails is not helpful, and constitutes panic reaction.”

Mr Mohammed stated that the Federal Government will still go ahead with the plan to stop purveyors of fake news and hate speeches. Adding that, no responsible government will allow such acts to reign freely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ondo NUJ Suspends Members Over Alleged Breach Of Peace

The Ondo state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists has suspended three of its members indefinitely.

The suspended members: David Akinadewo of Owena Press Chapel, Sina Adeyeye of State Information Chapel and Sunday Tonibor of the Ondo State Radiovision Corporation chapel were alleged to have breached the peace of the council.

A letter signed by the NUJ’s chairman, Mr. James Sowole said the affected members were involved in an action capable of causing breach of peace.

The letter read in part, “For participating in an action capable of causing breach of peace and disaffection in the union, three members of the union are hereby suspended indefinitely and with immediate effect.

“The suspended members today committed infractions to the Union’s constitution by illegally constituted themselves as Chairman, Secretary and member of the Council Interim Management Committee.

“The illegal action of the people has been reported to security agents for appropriate action. The Union hereby enjoins our members to remain calm and not to sign illegal documents being taken round to back their illegal action.”

CACOL Backs Presidency On Resolve To Arraign Reinstated Judges

The Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has backed the decision of the Presidency to arraign suspected corrupt Judges who were recently recalled to return to duty by the National Judicial Council, NJC describing the Council’s step as ‘immoral and retrogressive’.

The Judges had been suspended following the raid on their residences in a sting operation by the Department Of State Security, DSS, in October last year. The six suspended judges who were under investigation for alleged corruption reinstated by NJC reinstated are Justices John Okoro, Uwani Abba Aji, Hydiazira Nganjiwa, Adeniyi Ademola, Justice Musa Kurya and Agbadu Fishim.

Mr. Debo Adeniran, the Executive Chairman of CACOL, said “shamelessness is being brazenly taken to unbelievable heights right before our eyes, and if we remain silent, then the credibility and integrity of the Nigerian Judiciary will remain a body of ridicule within the comity of nations. The fact that the Judges are under investigations alone should be enough for the NJC to wait before it took the decision to reinstate the Judges. Sadly, this move portend that our Judiciary pampers corruption”

“How many litigants will feel comfortable to be judged by a Judge with grievous charges of corruption such as the ones against the suspended Judges? We doubt, if there would be any, unless those who are equally corrupt and require the services of a corrupt Judge to escape justice. Any court where such Judges sit could as well be considered to a market place where judgments could be gotten on basis of the highest bidder and the ‘hardness’ of the currencies. And we should not be taken aback if this counter-productive step by the NJC is allowed to stand when we begin to see suspected corruption criminals seeking to be tried by these ‘permanently stained’ judges.”

“The NJC’s has only reinforced the position that our Judiciary is equally drenched in corruption just like the other arms of the government. And this is a tragedy because the Judiciary is supposed to be the last bastion of hope for the mass of the people. The ‘group practice’ or ‘solidarity’ being espoused by the Bar and Bench makes the case of the Judiciary more dangerous and scary, because it is easy discernible that the NJC’s and even the NBA’s position is more like the Judiciary as a body, is trying shield one of its own from justice ostensibly because they are all involved in the game.

The position of the NBA and the NJC that a period of eight months is too long for Judges to be under investigation is utterly untenable because a crime can always be investigated and prosecuted at anytime. That culpability is not established does not stop a case from being re-opened for further investigations and possible re-prosecution if fresh facts or evidences are unveiled.”

Concluding, the anti-corruption Crusader said, “Judiciary is the last hope of the common people; in a situation where the Judiciary can longer serve the purpose of its creation, it becomes useless, and self-help is becomes the only hope which is a recipe for anarchy. We therefore back the Presidency on the move to arraign the suspended Judges while calling on the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC to expedite actions on its investigations so that the suspected corrupt men of Bench are prosecuted and brought to book if found culpable.”

Osun NUJ Honours Deputy Governor, Others

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Osun Council, as part of its activities to mark the 2017 press week honoured the Deputy Governor of Osun State, Titi Laoye-Tomori, with Golden Mother Award, alongside four others.

Those who were also honoured were the CEO of Fort Knox Group Limited, Abuja, Prince Dotun Babayemi, who was honoured with Evergreen Award for Humanitarian Services, Mr Adeyinka Afonja, the CEO of Ace Supermarkets with Entrepreneurial of the Year Award, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mallam Yusuf Ali, with Man of the Year Award.

The Chairman of the council, Abiodun Olalere during the Dinner and Award Night said the awardees were honoured for distinguishing themselves in their various professions and contributing to the development of humanity.

He explained that the union is committed to the cause of humanity as the fourth estate of the realm, and in encouraging others who are doing the same, which according to him necessitated the need to honour those individuals.

The union also gave out professional awards in eight different categories, which include: Best Reporter of the Year (Print), Best Reporter of the Year (Broadcast), Best Information Officer of the Year, Best Newscaster of the Year, Best Photo Journalist of the Year, Best Investigative Reporter of the Year, Media Organisation of the Year, and Chairman’s Award.

The Best Investigative Reporter of the Year was sponsored by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Future Minds, which specialises in health campaign and advocacy.

Meanwhile, the press week, which kicked off with a Jumat service on May 19 and a Church service the following Sunday was rounded off by “Asun Night” on Friday.

Nasarawa Police Seek Media Support In Fighting Crime

Police Question Man Over Ogoni Food PoisoningThe Nasarawa State Police Commissioner, Abubakar Sadiq Bello, said he will continue to work with journalists in the state to fight crime.

He revealed this when he hosted the newly elected Nasarawa State officials of the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ).

He noted that the community policing which is the underlying point of the Nigeria police can only be achieved through partnership with relevant stakeholders.

The commissioner pledged that the command will synergise with men of the pen profession in the state in order to reduce crime to the barest minimum.

He underscored the role of journalists in crime prevention and applauded them for complementing the efforts of the police in ensuring that the people sleep with two eyes closed.

The chairman of the Nasarawa state council of NUJ, Dogo Shammah, disclosed that journalist in the state are skilled in investigative journalism and urged the police boss to utilise such abilities.

“As watchdogs of the society, we will help you where we can. Just as the police is trained on investigations, journalists are also trained in investigative journalism. We would always continue to do that so that we bring out the information that will ease your personnel in carrying out their responsibilities,” he said.

Social Media Now A Vehicle Of Commotion, Anarchy – Al-Makura

The Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-Makura, says that social media has become a vehicle of commotion, anarchy and instigation hold sway.

He charged journalists in the country on professionalism in order to curb excesses of social media reports.

He made this known when he received members of the Nasarawa State chapter of Nigeria Union Of Journalist (NUJ) at the Government House in Lafia, the state capital.

The governor opined that activities of the social media over the years have triggered confusions, lawlessness and provocation.

“What is happening is that the social media is fast becoming another challenge to the mainstream journalism and to some extent when you disseminate your information with the best of ethics and professionalism such delivery is endangered by the hitch hiking of information dissemination by all kinds of people within the web.

“So I think for this, the reason you have to add value to the system and at the same time you should not be aloof with happens in the social media, you could also contribute to the social media to ensure that the message gets to the right destination and the true and rightful message.

“You as mainstream journalists must find a way of domesticating and taming the excesses of the social media. This is when the society would benefit from the explosion and sophistication in the media circle”.

Budget Padding Is A ‘Misrepresentation Of Facts’ – Deputy Speaker

Yusuf Lasun, Reps, Budget Padding, 2016 Budget, House of RepresentativesThe Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Lasun Yusuf, has described as misrepresentation of facts, the widespread allegations of padding of the 2016 budget.

He said that contrary to rumours being peddled around the country, there was no section of the appropriation bill that was padded.

The lawmaker explained that the legislature had in exercise of the power conferred on it by the constitution, reallocated figure in the budget estimates as presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He made the disclosure while delivering a lecture at the 17th edition of the media parliament of Kwara State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Mr Yusuf spoke on the ‘Challenges of Law-making and the Delivery of Dividend of Democracy in Nigeria’ during the gathering at the Abubakar Olusola Saraki Pen House in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

He explained that it was the exclusive preserve of the legislative arm to rework annual fiscal document tabled before it by the executive, stating that such document remains “an estimate and not real budget”.

The former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Mr Abdulmumin Jibrin, who had blown the lid that some principal officers of the lower chamber of the National Assembly partook in the budget padding scam, was suspended from office.

His allegation had ignited public outrage against the National Assembly while the House maintained that the budget was not padded as alleged.

Abdulmumin Jibrin, House, Budget padding
Mr Abdulmumin Jibrin

Budget Padding Debacle

The Deputy Speaker, however, told the gathering in Ilorin that the allegations against the leadership of the House by the suspended lawmaker were of no effect and could not be substantiated, insisting that the House acted within its powers.

He stated that the House was empowered to reallocate and reconcile figures in the budget estimates that were believed not to be properly done.

Honourable Yusuf decried that many Nigerians were ignorant of the works of the legislative arm and were fond of passing verdict without verifiable facts on some allegations levelled against the lawmakers.

He explained further that it was the primary responsibility of the law-making body to scrutinise budget estimates submitted by the executive arm, adding that members could use the avenue to address pressing needs of their people.

“While the executive makes proposals on projects, programmes and expenditure for every year, the legislature finally approves figures that are spent.

“In the process, the legislature often interfaces with the executive to have certain projects and programmes form part of (the) budget.

“This is necessary as I have said earlier because the closeness of the legislator to the constituents must have emerged from that environment.

“It is critical that certain pressing areas requiring government attention are suggested and included in the estimates.

“Unfortunately, the poor understanding of the fine details of legislative practice anchored on the express provision of the constitution erroneously informed the so-called budget padding debacle which was a distraction to the polity.

“For instance, the case of 50-year-old Ojutu Bridge in my constituency that has great potentials in turning around the lives of my constituents,” Yusuf said.

Deputy Speaker Decries Lack Of Policies From Executive

Yusuf-Lasun-deputy-speakerThe Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yusuf Lasun, has decried the unwillingness on the part of the executive in some instances to take the legislature into confidence as major challenge to democracy.

He also identified the rot in the third tier of government as one of the major obstacles to the growth of Nigeria’s nascent democracy, describing it as “a pain in the neck of Nigerians”.

Honourable Lasun made the observation while delivering his address at the 17th edition of the media parliament of the Kwara State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) held in Ilorin.

He spoke on the topic: “Challenges of Lawmaking and The Delivery of Dividend of Democracy in Nigeria”.

The lawmaker noted that for any democratic setting to positively affect the citizens, the executive arm must have a clear and well defined set of programmes for interpretation by the legislature.

He expressed optimism that the dividends of democracy would be meaningful if the process was achieved.

Mr Lasun further pointed out that transforming of manifestos to policies, as well as policies to actions through the legislative arm were the missing links in Nigeria’s democracy.

Unions Condemn Alleged Misconduct By Bayelsa Radio Boss

Unions, Bayelsa Radio Station, John IdunmageFresh crisis has unfolded at the Bayelsa State-owned radio station, GloryLand FM, following protest by staff against the alleged misconduct of the General Manager, Dr. John Idunmage.

Dr. Idunmage, who was recently appointed following the sack of Mr. Heyford Lawson, was accused of high handedness, unlawful arrest of staff and insulting leadership of the staff union under the aegis of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Radio Television Theatre and Art Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU).

The leadership of the affected unions led by Tonye Yemoleigha (Radio Bayelsa Chapel Chairman), Pius Otiti (Chairman, RATTAWU), Amiditor Ikpo (Secretary NUJ) and Preye Yabrifa (Secretary RATTAWU), decried the conduct of the general manager which they said was threatening the smooth working condition in the station.

A statement issued by the leadership of the unions read in parts: “Due to the recent developments in Bayelsa State Broadcasting Corporation (BSBC), the two sister-unions of NUJ and RATTAWU met and resolved as follows:

“That the unions are deeply unhappy with the arrest of three of their members: Emmanuel Torubeli, the Director of Engineering, Sydney Otufu, the Head of Transport Unit and Felix Amalah, the Head of Plant, by the Police on the insistence of the new BSBC General Manager, for alleged misconduct.

“While sister-unions are not and will not stand against any effort to instill discipline and unravel any act inimical to the corporation, it is however important that internal mechanisms are implored, as provided for in the Public Service Rules, to address such issues.

“Such arrest is capable of diminishing the morale and passion of committed staff to duty, therefore, it is the unions’ position that the matter be withdrawn from the Police and be internally addressed.

“Also that the placement of staff of lower grade level/rank above their seniors is unacceptable to the unions and the recent ‘acting appointments’ of junior officers above and over their superiors should be reversed without delay.

“We are mindful that where a case of incompetence and misconduct or otherwise is established against an officer, disciplinary action should be taken in line with provisions of the Public Service Rules. Nonetheless, the next most senior officer must be given the responsibilities of discharging the functions of that office.

“As unions, we frown at the use of social media by the new General Manager of BSBC, John Idumange, to communicate the problems or challenges of the corporation to the global community rather than taking steps to call on staff or relevant government authority to address such problems and using internal communication channels.

“Finally, that the general manager tender an apology for insulting the unions as it is alleged that while departing the Ekeki Police Station, he was overheard to have said ‘RATTAWU my yansh, NUJ my foot’.

“The unions’ leaderships, while appreciating management for recent efforts to improve the corporation, called on staff to be more committed to duty and contribute meaningfully to the growth of the corporation.”

Journalists In Bayelsa State Kick Against Estimated Electricity Billing System

Electricity, BEDCJournalists in Bayelsa State are raising concerns over the estimated electricity billing system of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, describing it as a rip-off.

The leadership of the Federated Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Bayelsa State Council, issued a statement signalling their displeasure with the estimated billing system.

The group of correspondents working for national media operating in Bayelsa state also called on the Management of PHEDC to immediately commence the supply of pre-paid meters to customers to end the era of extortion by way of arbitrary skyrocketed bills.

This statement is coming on the heels of numerous complaints by consumers in Yenagoa on the alleged inefficiency in the system.

Citing the case of exorbitant monthly estimated bill of between 5,000 Naira and 6,000 Naira at its chapel Secretariat on Toolda road, Ekeki, Yenagoa, the Chairman of the Correspondent’s Chapel and Secretary, Comrade Kola Oredipe and Comrade Chris Eze, said the bill was unjustifiably high.

In a statement by the chapel officers, they expressed worry at the attitude of the PHEDC officials who are always anxious to disconnect debtors.

“Sometime in July this year, the office was disconnected and we decided not to pay for two months. Of course, we decided to rely solely on alternative power source since the public power source was rather irregular. But to our surprise, electricity bills were brought for the two months period that the office was without public power.

“By the time we visited the PHEDC Business Office in Yenagoa, we were told that we ought to have notified them that we would not use their source for that period. We were shocked more so that PHEDC should have record of houses/buildings disconnected,” the statement read.

It further confirmed the inefficiency in PHEDC when the Correspondent’s chapel office was disconnected on Thursday, December 8 despite the fact that we have cleared current bill and part of outstanding as directed.

“When we met with the Yenagoa Business Manager on Monday, 12th December 2016 to complain that the office was erroneously and ignorantly disconnected, he offered his apology and directed a senior officer to ensure immediate reconnection.

“One full week has passed without reconnection despite a reminder call to the Business Manager on Wednesday, 14th December, 2016. This is clearly a case of sheer lack of insensitivity. We do hope that the office will not be billed for electricity not consumed from the 8th December, 2016,” the statement read.

The reporters called on the state government to protect the citizens from ongoing extortion in the name of bulk billing, estimated billing, unjustified disconnection, harassment of customers, and billing of a house that has been disconnected.

They particularly noted that some of the electricity consumers often complained of late response to clearing of faults, replacement of bad transformers by the distribution company and reconnection thereby making the customers lose trust in PHEDC.

The statement was issued and signed by the Chairman of the chapel, Kola Oredipe.

Yobe Govt. Challenges Journalists On Professional Reportage

Yobe, Journalists, NUJ, ReportageThe Yobe State Government has tasked journalists to sharpen their reportorial skills, as the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) doles out 110 laptops to its members in the state.

The Special Adviser to the Yobe State Governor, Abdullahi Bego, challenged the journalists to take advantage of the new information technologies to improve on their reportorial skills.

He disclosed that the 110 laptops were given free to the council by the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) with the aim to widen the prospects of journalism practice in Yobe State and to also meet the challenges of modern day journalism.

The Governor’s spokesman praised journalists who remained in the troubled northeast region to keep the society informed about happenings during the heat of the Boko Haram insurgency.

With the development in information and communication technology, he said although everybody has an opportunity to be a journalist, being professional would make the difference.

Bego urged the reporters to rise up to the task, saying the development in the ICT world requires more from them in terms of adding more flesh to what makes the headlines.

He also tasked them to be more in-depth and truthful in their reportage and make the best use of social media websites such as the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter among others”.

The Zonal Vice President of NUJ in charge of Zone E, Aisha Ibrahim, commended the partnership between the Yobe State Executive Council and NCC and urged members of the union to make the best use of it.

She said the ICT training would go a long way in improving professionalism among the journalists and called on them to leverage on the knowledge acquired in their day to day professional duties.

On his part, the Yobe State Chairman of NUJ, Yusuf Isah, thanked the state government and the NCC for the gesture, saying it would greatly uplift the status of journalism in the state and beyond.

He said that the union would commence an ICT training, in view of the new trends in journalism to educate members on how to face new challenges.

NUJ Asks FG, States To Urgently Fix Federal Roads In Southeast

NUJ-LogoThe Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has decried the deplorable state of federal roads in Nigeria’s southeast region.

The NUJ calls on the Federal Government and governors of the five states in the region to as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency on the roads.

The National Vice Chairman of the union, Zone C, Chris Isiguzo, made the call on Friday at a meeting with the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, at the Government House in Owerri, the state’s capital.

Speaking in company of the NUJ executive members of Zone C, Mr Isiguzo described all the federal roads in the southeast as a ‘death trap’.

He identified the Owerri-Okigwe Road, Onitsha- Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Aba-Ikot-Ekpene-Uyo Expressway and Owerri-Port Harcourt Road among others as some of the important roads in the region.

The NUJ executive urged the Federal Government in collaboration with the governors to find a solution to the problem, so as to make life easier for the people of the south-east.

He also asked the governors to tackle the continuous attacks on the people of the region by suspected herdsmen.

In his response, Governor Okorocha blamed the road dilapidation in the region on previous governments, saying there were neglected.

However, he promised to call on his colleagues to see how most of the issues raised would be tackled headlong.